While visiting FIGat7th in Downtown Los Angeles over the weekend, I noticed that a giant shoe sculpture made entirely of canned food was on display. I later discovered that the shoe was actually modeled after Converse’s famous Chuck Taylor sneaker, and was a crowd favorite from last year’s “Canstruction” competition in New York City.
So, you may be wondering: what is Canstruction? After doing some research on the internet, I learned that it is an international charity competition where architects, engineers, contractors, and the students they mentor, compete to design and build giant structures made entirely from full cans of food. At the end of the competition all of the food is donated to local food banks where the competitions are held. Founded in 1992 by Cheri Melillo, Canstruction has raised millions of pounds of food for food banks in participating cities. With over 170 cities and more than 30,000 volunteers participating in competitions, Canstruction has grown to become one of the largest food drives for food bank donations in the world.
Locally, Canstruction LA is responsible for organizing the competition for designers in Los Angeles. The 2013 event will take place on January 10-11 at Downtown L.A.’s Art Walk, and will highlight the need to fight hunger while showcasing the best and brightest of Los Angeles’ design community. Teams will design and build structures made entirely from canned foods that fit within a 10’ x 10’ x 8’ space for public display. A panel of judges will evaluate the structures and award prizes, including “Juror’s Favorite,” “Best Meal,” “Best Use of Labels,” and “Structural Ingenuity.” The competition will take place at the historic Farmers and Merchants Bank located at 401 South Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014. At the event’s completion, the cans will be donated to the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. Over the past five years, Canstruction LA has raised over 197,525 cans of food for the Foodbank. To view examples of entries in the last competition, please check out this video. Also, examples of works from contests in other cities can be found at www.canstruction.org.
Two years ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and saw firsthand the tremendous work done by the organization. Annually, the Foodbank provides nutritious food to over one million individuals including 400,000 children. Every week, it distributes one million pounds of food–the equivalent of 770,000 meals–through a network of 640 partner agencies and 1,000 program sites, including food pantries, soup kitchens, youth and senior centers. It is indeed an organization worthy of our support and recognition.
Canstruction is a wonderful idea that both promotes design and fights hunger. It is very encouraging to see the continued implementation of founder Cheri Melillo’s vision to unite the design and construction community in a series of friendly competitions that actually improve the lives of the underprivileged and underserved. I look forward to seeing the different can designs/structures in January’s Canstruction competition because I know they will be very creative and will benefit many needy individuals afterwards.
Shoe Canstruction by Clement Lau