“Canstructing” for Charity

This past weekend, I learned about a great charity event known as Canstruction. This year is the 23rd year that New York City has hosted Canstruction, but it has turned into an international competition, with more than 100 cities around the world holding their own Canstruction events. Engineering and architecture firms compete on teams to design and construct large sculptures made of canned goods at Brookfield Place in lower Manhattan. Once the competition is over, the cans are donated to City Harvest and go to feeding New York City’s hungry.

Once the “canstructing” is completed, you can tour the exhibits. That’s exactly what I did last weekend. There were 29 sculptures in all–below are some photographs of my favorites.

First, here is the sculpture that won the jury award in the competition. Created by Gensler, the sculpture includes 5,932 cans of food, including peppers, tuna, salmon, tomato sauce, beans, salsa, carrots, peas, rice, and pretzels. (Ok, not quite everything is in cans!)


I really liked this Top Hat sculpture as well, which was created by STUDIOS Architecture and consists of 8,840 cans of sardines and chicken broth.


There was this fun sculpture of a hand holding a Magic 8 ball made entirely out of tuna fish cans, created by Gilsanz Murray Steficek. (The other side shows the “?” through the “window” of the Magic 8 ball!) There are 7,058 cans in all.


This butterfly was beautiful, and involved some architectural complexity. Created by GACE Consulting Engineers DPC, it contains 5,362 tuna and sardine cans. This one is so cool that it deserves photos from two different perspectives!



Then there are the NYC-themed sculptures. This year, there was this sculpture of the Wall Street bull, by Thornton Tomasetti. It is made of 5,101 canned of chopped tomatoes, tuna, and sardines.


The final one I’ve chosen is one that any New Yorker who rides the subway on a regular basis will appreciate. Remember those MTA “Courtesy Counts” posters, especially this one indicating that “manspreading” is discouraged? (The caption: “Dude … Stop the Spread, Please. It’s a Space Issue.”)

manspreading image

Well, someone reimagined that poster in cans! This sculpture was created by MTA – NYCT and includes 2,016 cans of different types of beans (each type has a different label, which creates the color patterns).


What makes these sculptures even more amazing is the fact that they are structurally sound without much extra support. The labels have to stay on the cans, and builders can only use things like string, tape, rubber bands, paper, and thin cardboard between layers.

Want to see the rest of the sculptures? The Canstruction exhibition is open at Brookfield Place at 230 Vesey Street through November 15, 2015. Brookfield Place is located close to One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. If you are traveling by subway, take the A, C, E, 1, 2, or 3 train to the Chambers Street stop, the R to Cortland Street, the 2 or 3 to Park Place, or the 4 or 5 to Fulton Street. You can also take the PATH train to the World Trade Center stop.

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