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Top Design Firms Make DIY Architect-ed Palaces Out of Cans

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Here now, man-on-the-ground Ian Volner filing another event dispatch, this time from New York's most DIY architecture charrette, held yesterday in the World Financial Center's Winter Garden.

It’s can-demonium! The mood was tense, can-petitive juices flowing, as New York’s eighteenth-annual Canstruction contest got rolling last night under the yawning canopy of the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden. Six-person teams, representing 26 of the city’s foremost architecture and engineering firms, vied for top honors in a test of wills that would carry on through the night and to the very edge of reason. Armed only with aluminum cans and a can-do attitude, these plucky young can-testants strained to turn their can-tasttic can-ceptions into can-cifully uncanny can-fections? This has to stop.

New York’s aluminum-goods face-off is just one in a nationwide series of Canstruction events, and like the others this one is for a good cause: the participating architecture firms supplied the cans, and will be donating them to City Harvest once the sculptures come down. In the interim, the installations created by each office’s design team (comprised mostly of junior [in some cases very junior] associates) will be on display in the Winter Garden through the 21st, in all their weird splendor—previous years’ creations have included the Little Engine That Could, life-size Russian nesting dolls, and the cover of the Beatle’s Let It Be LP. But could this year’s crews make the grade? Facing a 7AM cans-down deadline, the nervous energy in the air was as thick as Del Monte Fresh Cut Golden Sweet Corn Cream Style.

Curbed: Don’t let me slow you down. I’m just gonna yell questions at you. Why are you doing this?
AECOM Team: (Variously) Because we volunteered!... Because it’s for a good cause!... Because we like pain!

Curbed: Your baseboards, those look like footprints. Are you doing shoes?
GACE Team: It’s going to be a big cowboy boot. ‘Cause we wanna give hunger the boot!

Curbed: I can’t help but notice that you bunch don’t, er, have any cans. What’s the deal?
Ennead Team: They’ve been delayed for over an hour. Some kind of problem with the union. A few people from of our team went out to get food.

Curbed: You guys are actually q high school team, wow! How did you get dragged into this?
Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Upper East Side: One of our moms [Forman Design] helped sponsor us? We sold T-shirts to raise money for the cans? Yeah, we’re the cool kids.
—Reporting by Ian Volner