A team of 13 students enrolled in the School of Architecture have spent the past several months devising ways to construct a scene from classic literature entirely out of canned goods.
The Rensselaer students are the only student team participating in the fourth annual CANstruction event at the New York State Museum. Teams from local engineering and architecture firms are competing against the Rensselaer students for awards like “structural ingenuity,” “best use of labels,” “best meal,” and the prize the Rensselaer group has set its sights on, “juror’s favorite.”
The theme for this year’s event, which is a benefit for Food Pantries for the Capital Region Inc., is Storytown. Each team’s “canstruction” must be based on literature; the students—who represent each of the five classes in the School of Architecture—built a scene from Alice in Wonderland.
“We went with Alice because we thought that it was iconic enough that all ages could recognize it,” said Dillon Webster, a third-year student in the School of Architecture, who is leading this year’s CANstruction team.
Interacting with the rest of the firms in the area and seeing that they are doing something to help the community is a really great thing. The competition also tests our abilities as architects, especially as students, to construct something out of a relatively unused material.”—Dillon Webster
On April 8, the teams gathered on the fourth floor of the museum to put together their “canstructions.” The Rensselaer team’s submission includes 4,000 cans of food—all of which will be donated to Food Pantries for the Capital Region. The canned goods the teams use must be approved by the Food Pantries for the Capital Region as healthy food choices. The Rensselaer team is using canned vegetables, tuna, beans, and broth.
The “canstructions” will be on exhibit to the public at the museum through Thursday, April 24. During that time there will be boxes in front of each “canstruction” where visitors can drop off canned goods as a donation; the box that receives the most donations will win the “crowd favorite” award.
The Rensselaer team has raised about $4,200 so far and donations are being accepted online through April 24.
Last year the Rensselaer team won top marks for structural ingenuity for their scene from The Wizard of Oz that was complete with a giant tornado. The year before, they won best use of labels in the zoo-themed competition when they crafted a colorful peacock out of cans.
“It’s a lot of fun and it’s important in this field to get out into the community. Interacting with the rest of the firms in the area and seeing that they are doing something to help the community is a really great thing,” Webster said. “The competition also tests our abilities as architects, especially as students, to construct something out of a relatively unused material.”