Creative CANstructions Help Feed Hungry Alaskans

April 7, 2016

R&M CONSULTANTS, INC. (R&M) spent the afternoon of March 25 at the University Center building a structure made entirely of canned foods for the 2016 CANstruction competition, an annual fundraiser for the Food Bank of Alaska.

During CANstruction architect, engineer and construction (AEC) firms design and build structures made from canned food. Teams build their canstructions within a 10’ x 10’ x 8’ area at the University Center and all structures must be completed between noon and midnight on build-out day. All the cans used go to the Food Bank at the end of the competition to help provide food for hunger relief programs throughout Alaska. Approximately 10 AEC teams participate annually with an average of 38,000 pounds of food donated each year.

This year’s theme was Hidden Treasures. Since gold mining is a significant part of Alaska’s history, and mining brings hidden treasures to the surface, R&M decided to build something around that theme. The team came up with a trolley filled with gems emerging from a mine shaft to represent this, naming the structure Mine Shaft Trolley Treasures.

The structure was made out of coffee, sardine, chicken and pinto bean cans, totaling more than 2,200 cans. Graphic Designer Katie Chan was responsible for the design of the mine shaft and Marketing Coordinator Sarah Hall was responsible for team logistics and the can order. The structure took approximately seven hours to build with a nine-person team made up of staff engineers, project engineers, materials laboratory technicians and marketing staff.

“Participating in CANstruction was a positive and uplifting experience knowing my time was contributing to a greater good – serving the community and providing cans to the Food Bank of Alaka,” said Katie Chan. “It was a fun group effort that surprisingly turned out to look really similar to our original planned sketch.”

R&M has participated in CANstruction since 2009. Structures R&M has created in the past include a Kraken Sea Monster: Moose’s Tooth pizza slice and beer glass; a DNA strand; and the Very Hungry Caterpillar. An average of 2,150 cans were used to create each structure.