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BSA News

Sep 21, 2023

Canstruction Boston Is Back!

Canstruction 2023 Website Event Graphic NEW SIZE

After a brief hiatus in 2022, the iconic Canstruction Boston competition, held annually since 1995, returns in October, when teams from the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) fields will build sculptures from canned goods to combat hunger with creativity. What can you build with cans to celebrate New England? Canstruction Boston is looking to register up to 15 teams by October 6 to participate and showcase their building, design, and engineering prowess.

Organized by the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Boston and hosted by the Boston Society for Architecture (BSA), the Canstruction Boston charity event and design-build competition will take place on October 21, 2023, at the Nelson Court and Waterfront Square lobbies at 280 and 290 Congress Street (right outside the BSA), Boston. This year’s theme is “Celebrating New England.”

How It Works

During the event, teams comprising only professionals and students from the AEC fields gather together for one day to custom-build unique structures made out of canned goods and permissible supporting boards, rods, and pipes, without the use of glue or other adhesives. For Chris Hodney, a project manager at Nitsch Engineering who has participated in many past Canstruction Boston events, his excitement is palpable: “Canstruction is my favorite event that we do at Nitsch. There’s so much energy and excitement in the room on build day, and it’s fun seeing the creative designs that other teams are building.”

The structures remain on display for three weeks in the lobbies outside the BSA. Everyone is invited to come and view these final structures between Sunday, October 22, through Friday, November 10. Upon deconstruction, all the canned goods used are donated to the Merrimack Valley Food Bank (MVFB) to feed those who are hungry.

Design Considerations

What should teams consider when thinking about their design? Obviously, the theme must come into play, but based on past award categories, teams should consider structural ingenuity (does the structure appear gravity defying, and does it use mostly cans vs. permissible support?), use of labels (how are the colors and patterns on the labels used in the structure?), and overall originality (does the design depict exceptional creativity in its use of cans, imagery, theme, and style?).

Hodney recalls his team’s most challenging build was their re-creation of the Eiffel Tower in 2019: “We had to find a way to temporarily hold up the four legs until they could lean on each other in the middle to support the spire.” And he shares this tip for first-time Canstruction Boston builders: “For teams building for the first time, keep in mind that no matter how well you design the structure, you need to have extra cans on hand so you have flexibility to make changes on build day.”

2019 Nitsch Team Eiffel Tower

Nitsch Engineering's 2019 Eiffel Tower

Photo courtesy of Nitsch Engineering

Award Categories

Teams will have 12 hours, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., to build their structures. Prizes will be presented in various award categories—six international and two local. The international award categories include Best Original Design, Structural Ingenuity, Best Meal, Best Use of Labels, People’s Choice, and Most Cans. Award winners in these categories go on to compete internationally through a photography submission, judged by a panel of jurors convened at the AIA National Convention in the spring of each year. Honorable Mention and the Social Media Soup-er Star round out the local award categories. The jury will comprise only members of the AEC industry. Deconstruction will take place on November 11, 2023, from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

Boston Ann Beha jv Thornton Tomasetti3

Ann Beha Architects + Thornton Tomasetti's 2018 Godzilla

Photo courtesy of Ann Beha Architects and Thornton Tomasetti

A Few Doses of Inspiration

Unlike the city of Rome, these structures literally are built in one day; however, in the weeks leading up to build day, it is the hard work and painstaking preparation of dedicated design teams behind the scenes that ultimately bring these stunning creations to life.

“Coordinating the design, can purchases, and delivery of materials can be a lot of work, but it’s worth it for that sense of accomplishment you get when you put the last can on the structure. And most importantly, it’s great knowing all the cans will go to a good cause at the Merrimack Valley Food Bank!” says Hodney.

Need more inspiration? Take a look at this gallery of past winners.

If viewing awe-inspiring creativity isn’t enough motivation, keep these words from MVFB’s mission statement top of mind: “All members of our community deserve access to nutritious, culturally relevant food.” If you’re not able to join a team, consider donating to the MVFB.

Team Registration

Remember, participation is capped at 15 teams, accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Register for this event by Friday, October 6, 2023.

More detailed information on the schedule, structure regulations, and awards will be provided to teams as they sign up or express interest. Please email [email protected] for further details.