Architecture firms build enormous sculptures from canned goods to benefit Austin food bank

Allie Kolechta

Roller coasters, cornucopias and giant armadillos constructed out of 19,000 cans of food to feed the hungry line the halls of Barton Creek Square Mall.

The monuments are part of the third annual Canstruction event benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank. Teams from around the Austin area had eight hours to build large-scale structures out of aluminum cans Saturday.

The Society of Design Administration organized the nationwide event. Shoppers will vote on the designs all week, and the winner will be announced on Nov. 22. Food used will be donated to the food bank.

In the last fiscal year, the Capital Area Food Bank received 25 million pounds of food, said John Turner, food bank spokesman.

“We just came off the back of a record year,” he said. “We expect our program to keep growing. The need for our services is really steady.”

The food bank provides food to 21 counties in Central Texas, and only 18 percent of their 48,000 weekly clients are homeless, he said. Most are working class families who have been laid off or are struggling because of the sluggish economy, he said.

“There are an awful lot of people who are literally struggling to put food on the table,” he said. “We really appreciate all the help we can get.”

STG Design, an interior design and architecture firm, signed up for Canstruction as soon as the firm heard about it, said Ashley Hargrove, the firm’s marketing representative. The STG Design team constructed “The Little Engine That Could” with the theme of “I Think I CAN” using chicken soup, tuna, chili, beans and fruit to enhance the nutritional value of their contribution, she said.

“‘The Little Engine that Could’ taught us all at a young age to conquer mountains for the selfless benefit of others,“ she said. “As adults, we tend to forget how much of a difference we can make with just the smallest steps.”

Encotech Engineering and The Beck Group raised $6,000 to donate to Capital Area Food Bank in the form of a check, as well as $3,000 worth of canned food. The Encotech team started working on a test build three weeks ago and built their can structure between 8 and 11 a.m. on Saturday, said Katie Harris, marketing coordinator at Encotech Engineering.

The Encotech team built an armadillo mostly from pinto beans. The project also included 2,000 cans of corn, green beans, beets and diced tomatoes. The armadillo was titled “Keep Austin Fed” to draw attention to the community that the food will be donated to, Harris said.

“The idea behind it was that when we donate canned foods, we don’t always remember that we’re donating to Austinites,” she said. “We’re not just feeding faceless people; we’re feeding people in our community.”