'Canstruction' competition to benefit Salvation Army

March 23, 2009
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A “Canstruction Project” competition is being held for the first time here, as Grand Rapids joins 40 other U.S. cities participating in the nationally organized event. The innovative design competition has attracted five entries from area architecture and design firms whose mission will be to build sculptures made entirely out of canned goods. When “de-canstructed,” the food items will go to The Salvation Army’s Booth Family Services for distribution to area food pantries.

Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University and Miller Canfield law firm are sponsoring the competition. Each sculpture entered must be 10-by-10-by-8 feet. The teams will build their sculptures over two days, March 28 and 29.

Miller Canfield heard about the Canstruction Project a couple of years ago and started looking into the possibility of staging a competition here, said spokeswoman Christy Baas. Kendall junior and interior design major Emily Davison had been to NeoCon in Chicago last summer with a group of fellow Kendall students and saw the city’s competition entries while there. When Davison heard of Miller Canfield interest in possibly sponsoring a Canstruction competition, she contacted the firm and proposed that it team up with Kendall to bring the event to Grand Rapids.

The two have been working together since last November on the project, Davison said. Baas explained that each team comes up with a sculpture concept, then buys canned goods that have the label colors they’ll need.  

It takes about 2,500 to 4,000 cans on average to make a sculpture, Davison said. She said since the canned goods will be donated to the Salvation Army, event organizers ask that the teams refrain from using packaged junk foods. There is also a Best Meal Award for the Canstruction sculpture that is built using the biggest variety of food choices, she noted. 

Roger Snider, Salvation Army public relations and communications manager, said the local Salvation Army affiliate is “absolutely thrilled” that Kendall and Miller Canfield partnered to bring the event to Grand Rapids.

“Given the economic conditions, demand is up across the board — not only at our food pantries but our Thrift Stores — and donations are typically down, so we’re really caught in the middle on that equation,” Snider said. “It’s a very, very positive move by both Kendall and Miller Canfield.” 

Local Canstruction competitors will be: Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber Inc.; Integrated Architecture, Pioneer Construction and JDH Engineering, entering as one team; Kendall College of Art and Design’s student chapter of AIGA; Kendall College of Art and Design student competition winner; and Paradigm Design Inc.

Judging the competition will be: Mayor George Heartwell; Gerry Barnaby, WLHT-FM 95.7 on-air personality; Glenn R. Rahn, AIA, DTS + Winkelmann LLC; Jeff York, principal at Miller Canfield; and Major Ralph Bukiewicz, Divisional Commander, Western Michigan and Northern Indiana Division, The Salvation Army.

The sculptures will be constructed in Kendall’s first floor Atrium at 17 Fountain St. NW. The public is invited to view the sculptures between March 31 and April 3 and cast their votes for The People’s Choice Award. Ballots will be available on-site for a cost of $1 or the donation of one canned, nonparishible food item. The People’s Choice Award winner will be announced at the end of the day on April 3.

“We’re really hoping that at least one of our teams will qualify for the national Canstruction competition,” Baas said.

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