“Can”-Structing Events To Hamper Hunger

“Can”-Structing Events To Hamper Hunger

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“CANolo Blahnik” by MSA Architects, entered in the 2013 Canstruction competition

Helping raise nearly 21 million pounds of food since 1992, Cincinnati Construction (CC) continues to be recognized for their commitment to innovation, hunger relief and collaboration.


Launched by Cheri Melillo and her colleagues from the Society for Design Administration (SDA), CC unites the design, engineering and construction industry through a unique and fun medium that provides canned food to hunger relief organizations. CC is part of a larger organization of cities including North America, Australia, South America, Europe and Asia.


“The SDA championed the cause by encouraging their chapters throughout the US to host a Canstruction event in their local community,” says Stephanie Kirschner, Co-Chair of CC. “Thereafter, the American Institute of Architects and Feeding America food banks joined in Canstruction’s expansion. Canstruction events are held annually in over 150 cities around the world.”


Kirschner, who has worked her entire career with the design industry, was asked to chair CC in 1997. “Our first year we had eight teams and our display was at the site of the old Contemporary Arts Center on Fifth Street. Ever since then, we’ve had our home base at the Weston Art Gallery,” she says, “This program ties creativity and ingenuity together in such a way that enables them to give back to the communities that they design and build for all of us. It is still amazing to me to watch pallets of cases of canned food turn into giant sculptures of art.”


After these colossal structures made entirely of canned food are built the creations go on display to the public as a giant art exhibition. At the end of the event all food is donated to local hunger relief organizations, which in Cincinnati’s case is the Freestore Foodbank, the largest emergency food and services provider to children and families in the Tri-state.


Prizes are awarded to each team in the categories of Best Meal, best variety of cans that would be most useful for a complete balanced meal, Best Use of Labels, best variety of cans that helps the design of the structure be articulated by the labels, Structural Ingenuity, best use of the math and physics to help the structure defy gravity and stand in position, Jurors’ Favorite, structure that receives the most votes from the jury and CAN Spirit Award, structure that uses the most cans.


Now in its 17th year, CC has grown to a planning committee of 12 people. Nearly 125 volunteers from firms, students at the local colleges, businesses and community leaders help organize and promote CC.


“We raise approximately 45,000 pounds of food from the structures,” she explains. “Over the past 16 years we have donated over 500,000 pounds of food to Freestore Foodbank. We help to stock the shelves of their warehouse at a time when most people aren’t thinking of those who are hungry.”


This year, the CC exhibit will be on display March 4 (you can watch the structures being constructed that morning) through March 23 at the Weston Art Gallery Arnoff Center, the Contemporary Arts Center, the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the Scripps Center and the Downtown Public Library. The winners of the Canstruction event will be selected on March 5 by “The Jury.” Another event that CC is involved in is Strut the Structures Saturday, which will be held March 8, 15 and 22 at 10 a.m. at the Weston Art Gallery. During this event families gather to enjoy a walking tour of this year’s Canstructures.


According to Kirschner, thus far the Cincinnati community has loved the CC event. “They think it’s clever and love to see the creative efforts of our local design professionals. The Freestore Foodbank loves this event because it allows them to bring their cause out in the public’s eye at a time other than the holidays,” she says. CC’s future goals are to eventually have participation by every architecture, engineering and construction company in the Tri-state, have structures in every downtown building lobby and have schools embrace the Canstruction Junior program.


For more information on Cincinnati Canstruction visit www.cincinnaticanstruction.org.