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BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | Surrounded by the ongoing construction at Brookfield Place in Battery Park City, hundreds of people stacked and taped food cans together on the night of Oct. 30 in an annual event called “Canstruction.”
For the last 21 years, teams from New York City’s architecture and engineering firms have been using their skills to create imaginative sculptures out of canned food. More than 100,000 cans of food are used for the sculptures, after which the cans are donated to City Harvest shortly before Thanksgiving. The food goes to feed hungry New Yorkers.
The nonprofit organization behind this competition — the organization is also called Canstruction — also holds design-and-build events in 140 cities around the world.
This year, 27 teams competed in New York. In addition to large firms such as Skanska USA, Leslie E. Robertson and Associates, Dattner Architects, IBI Group Gruzen Samton and others who have designed and engineered buildings in Manhattan, a team from Eleanor Roosevelt High School on East 76th Street competed in the event.
The Eleanor Roosevelt team utilized 4,000 cans of food for their entry called “Hunger Never Sleeps,” which depicts the New York City skyline.
The sculptures are erected in one feverish night of work but it can take months to design them and to assemble the ingredients.
Each sculpture is labeled with the name of the firm, the team that created it, the ingredients utilized, the number of cans and the estimated number of people that each structure could feed.
An igloo from GACE Consulting Engineers, for instance, was made of more than 3,000 cans of beans, corn, mixed vegetables, beef and chicken broth, tomato sauce, pears and pumpkins — enough to feed nearly 2,500 people.
Prizes are awarded for categories that include the “Best Meal,” “Best Use of Labels” and “Structural Ingenuity.” This year’s jury includes actress Rosie Perez; Tiffany Brooks of “The Most Embarrassing Rooms in America;” architect Bruce S. Fowle; Andrew Breslau, public relations director for the Alliance for Downtown New York; Ron Ben-Israel of Ron Ben-Israel Cakes and Leah Suzanne Kaplan, director of admissions at the Ridgewood Montessori School and chairperson of Canstruction NY.
The exhibition is on display through Nov. 13 at Brookfield Place in the Winter Garden and in the American Express lobby at 220 Vesey St. Visitors to the exhibit are invited to bring canned food to donate to City Harvest.