“How could I have not known?” are the words that continued to bounce around my thought process while walking through Brookfield Place. The poster and signs all congratulated the organization for their 25th year of the competition. “But how?” I thought to myself, wondering how something to exceptional and amazing could be so close to me in proximity yet so far away in reality since I hadn’t known of its existence. How was it that I only stumbled upon something of such grandeur only a few months ago? I enjoyed every second that I spent there, allowing every dynamic to dance around my thoughts. But I couldn’t help but think about all the years I wasted; the years I didn’t get to see the exhibit in reality. Regardless of how much I wish or beg, I will never be able to get those years back; the only thing I can do is enjoy the current exhibit and its potential for future years.
According to the Canstruction Nation Headquarters website, Canstruction began in 1992 by a woman named Cheri Melillo as a collaborative idea with her fellow colleagues. Together, they created an idea to bridge the gap between architects, engineers, and contractors. Each of these professions are connected but don’t really interact with each other; they just coexist in the vast world of design and construction. Melillo saw a problem with the lack of interaction but, also, saw a solution to make the worlds collide and begin to form a better and more comfortable relationship with one another. Canstruction officially made its debut in 1992, taking place in Denver, CO and Seattle, WA before the New York chapter opened on November 13, 1993.
Canstruction is a competition in which groups of architects, engineers, and contractors (licenced, students, and graduates, alike) build structures completely out of canned goods. Yes, those old fruit cocktails and tuna fish cans in back of your pantry are turned into art. Maybe more enjoyable than the taste, these sculptures stand in the space for a limited time; displayed for everyone’s amusement. After the awards are given and the competition runs its course, the cans are then donated to a local food drive; in our case it all goes to City Harvest. Twenty-five years after the competition’s conception, Canstruction has grown into a massive organization, its compassion spreading to over two hundred cities all over the world and donating about fifty million pounds of food.
This year marks the tenth year of the exhibit’s location at Brookfield Place. Twenty-six different groups entered their own renditions of can sculptures and they were dispersed around the property; weaved in between the commerce and lobbies, inciting droves of people to surround these structures. The creativity stunned me so thoroughly, that I don’t think I could pick a favorite. Each structure was unique and had its own respective qualities that I found favorable.
Although Melillo wasn’t able to see the growth of her organization since her tragic passing in 2009, I guarantee that she would be proud to know how much her work has induced the design and construction worlds to continue mingling with one another.
Who knew that a simple can had the ability to connect people at such a grand scale…