CANstruction 2011

The New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA-NJ) recently held its 13th annual “CANstruction” event, a design exhibition and contest to benefit community food programs, at the Livingston Mall, in Livingston, N.J.

“CANstruction combines two of architect’s greatest passions: designing new structures and giving back to the community,” said Christy DiBartolo, chair of the New Jersey event. “With the current state of economy, the number of people who are in need of the food bank’s services is at an all-time high. We are delighted that AIA-NJ can make a contribution.”

Using over 44,000 cans of food, seven New Jersey teams comprised of architects, engineers mentored by AIA-NJ professionals competed to design and build giant structures. The structures, which took months to conceptualize, were built during an eight-hour “Build Day,” and were judged and displayed for a week before being dismantled and donated to the New Jersey-based Community Food Bank of New Jersey (CFBNJ).

NK Architects, a Morristown, N.J.-based architectural and design firm, received the event’s top award, “Jurors’ Favorite,” along with the “Best Use of Labels” award for its 10-by-10-foot, 17,000-can structure of Andy Warhol, entitled “15 Minutes of Fame to Fight Hunger.”

Other award winners included Gensler, a Morristown, N.J.-based architectural, design, planning and consulting firm, which received the “Structural Ingenuity” award for its enormous structure of playing cards, poker chips and dice entitled “All in Against Hunger”; USA Architects, a Newark, N.J.-based architectural firm, which received the “Best Meal” award for its giant Faberge egg structure entitled “Egg-Nite the Fight Against Hunger,” which also won an “Honorable Mention” award; and Skanska, a Parsippany, N.J.-based construction firm, which won an “Honorable Mention” award for its colossal birthday cake structure, which commemorated Goya Foods’ 75th anniversary, entitled “Help Take a ‘Slice’ Out of Hunger!”

In addition to designing the structures, participating firms were responsible for obtaining the cans used in their structures, which involved soliciting donations from sponsors, including food manufactures, supermarkets, clients, families and friends, or buying the cans.

Last year’s New Jersey event, which was held at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., in conjunction with the “New Jersey Hockey Fights Hunger initiative,” of the New Jersey Devils, a Major League Hockey team, raised over 44,000 pounds of food and $1,700 in cash donations.

CFBNJ distributes more than 37 million pounds of food and groceries a year, ultimately serving 1,656 non-profit programs including 436 programs served by its partner distribution organizations. Through their combined efforts, they help more than 900,000 people in 18 New Jersey counties.

The New Jersey event is part of a nationwide CANstruction event, which is held under the auspices of the Society for Design Administration (SDA), an affiliate of the national AIA organization.

Since the inception of CANstruction, over 12 million pounds of food have been donated to the fight against hunger. Initiated by the Denver, Seattle and New York chapters of the SDA in 1992-1993, CANstruction had more than 130 individual competitions scheduled in last year’s cycle.

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