Architects, contractors and engineers met in an historic Downtown Los Angeles building this past weekend to construct structures out of cans of food. But this was no child’s play, as the charity event looked to raise thousands of dollars to benefit the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

The Eighth Annual Canstruction LA design/build competition, held March 13 - 16 at the Farmers and Merchants Bank Building brought out the best in eight design teams, whose identities were hidden so a panel of judges, and the public could vote for their favorites.

As one of three judges on the panel, I got to help pick winners in five seperate categories. The winners were announced Sunday night, March 16 at an gala awards ceremony in Downtown. While all eight entries were incredibly well built, with thousands of cans stacked with lots of detail, color and an obvious amount of patience, winners did have to be selected. And this was no easy task! 

Taking the crown for " Juror’s Favorite" was the team of PCL Construction, KPFF Consulting Engineers, and Callison Architects for their creation called “Food Fight.” This healthy masterpiece, made from cans of corn, olives, baked beans and tomato sauce, depicted a boxing ring with an apple beating up a bag of French fries.

The award for "Best Meal" went to American Society of Civil Engineers/Younger Member Forum for their entry, “CANimal Style Trio.” Resembling a burger, fries and drink combination from the fast food chain, In-N-Out Burger, this clever design included cans of black beans and sweet corm.

One of the most iconic can sculptures was “Pineapple Twist,” created by NBBJ and Thornton Tomasetti. As winner of the "Structural Ingenuity & People's Choice," this complex entry looked like a giant DNA double helix, and was made from pineapple cans.

The "Best Use of Labels" award went to Steinberg Architects for their “Reflecting Hunger,” which was made of various cans of beans to aptly recreate "The Bean" in Chicago, a giant public sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor.

And one my favorites was awarded “CAN Get Some Satisfaction,” a dedication to the famous Rolling Stones album cover with a pair of giant red lips. Built by LARGE Architecture and HKS, this structure, which won "Honorable Mention," also had an intricate guitar design embedded on the back side.

The rest of the talented field included RTKL Associates and John A Martin & Associates with their “Hungry Heart,” a giant heart made from cans of fish and tomato sauce; Gensler and Buro Happold's “Minion Canon,” which featured two men manning a big cannon; and “The Grand CANyon” by ZGF and KPFF.

Organized by local design industry leaders, in collaboration with the Society of Design Administration, Canstruction LA invites teams of prominent Los Angeles architects, engineers, and designers to create exciting structures made entirely of cans of food for public display and judging. 

At the end of the event, the cans are donated to the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. Canstruction has been held in more than 100 cities across the US and Canada. Over the last five years Canstruction LA has raised over 197,525 cans of food for the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank.