Six Canstruction® Rhode Island-2016 sculptures created by teams of architects, contractors and engineers from full cans of food recently provided 29,514 pounds of non-perishable goods to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank ( — thanks in no small part to the support of the Rhode Island Associated General Contractors and key roles played by a team from its Construction Leadership Council and teams that included four RIAGC-member companies.

The enormous sculptures, seen by thousands at Providence Place from March 12 to 25, depicted favorite characters like R2-D2 and BB-8 from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Dory from Finding Nemo and the upcoming Finding Dory, and Left Shark from the 2015 Super Bowl Half-Time Show along with a taste of everyone’s favorite coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts, a magic lunchbox, and a tribute to the Ocean State. When “de-canstructed,” the total weigh-in at the Food Bank beat the R.I. event’s 2014 record by 1,174 pounds.

A Construction Leadership Council team has played a noteworthy part six times since the first event in 2007 and in all five subsequent biennial events that began in 2008. RIAGC-member companies that helped form four other 2016 Canstruction RI teams included: H.V. Collins, a first-time participant; Dimeo Construction, which has contributed significantly to five of the sculpture benefits; Gilbane Building Co. and Shawmut Design and Construction, both of which have donated generously to all six Canstruction RI events (See Build Day photos of teams with their sculptures).

Canstruction® is a national food charity of the design and construction industry that has helped raise nearly 40 million pounds of food throughout the United States and many other countries since 1992. It is sponsored nationally by the Society for Design Administration with implementation initiated through local chapters of the AIA.

In a cooperative effort, the RIAGC has joined the R.I. chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA-ri) as primary sponsors and organizers of each Canstruction® RI event. Co-chairs of the organizing committee are Michael Busan, new business development director at Gilbane Building Co., and R. Drayton Fair, AIA, ALA, LEED AP, a partner at LLB Architects, and who as an AIA-ri president started Canstruction Rhode Island in 2007.

Providing as much food as possible to the Food Bank and drawing public attention to the problem of food insufficiency are the primary goals of each event. However, Canstruction was designed as an international competition with awards to promote team spirit, recognize team use of professional skills in a charitable endeavor and inspire others in the design and construction community to participate in future events. Sculptures selected by judges qualify local Canstruction organizations to enter photos of winners in the same categories of the annual international Canstruction® ( competition. Winners of the international competition are announced at the annual spring convention of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in May.

RIAGC members fared well in this year’s Canstruction RI competition: The Shawmut-LLB Architects team earned the Structural Ingenuity award for Left Shark Dances Out Hunger; H.V. Collins teamed with Saccoccio Architects and DiPrete Engineering captured Best Meal for May the Force be with us to Eliminate Hunger; and the Dimeo-Edward Rowse Architects team won Honorable Mention for The Magic Lunchbox. The other two juried awards, Best Use of Labels and Jurors’ Favorite, both went to a team of volunteers from Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels Architects, Odeh Engineers, Parker Construction Co., and Herrick & White Architectural Woodworkers for their 7,258-can seascape honoring the R.I. Community Food Bank’s 34 years of service to the Ocean State.

The Shawmut-LLB Architects team also won the RI-only People’s Choice award, decided by popular vote of those who “liked” one of the six sculpture photos posted on the Food Bank’s Facebook page.

The awards were presented at a late-March gala to team captains by Canstruction RI co-chairs Fair and Busam. Andrew Schiff, Rhode Island Community Food Bank chief executive officer, addressed the group.

“Once again I am amazed by the creativity and ingenuity behind each Canstruction sculpture,” he said. “And I’m even more pleased that this event raises awareness of hunger in the state and will help stock our shelves with about 30,000 pounds of food. We appreciate all of the hard work and dedication behind this effort.”

Each month, the Food Bank serves 60,000 people through a network of 167 agencies such as food pantries, shelters, youth programs and senior centers.


Busam assists the team captains and coordinates logistics for each event.  “Each project takes a substantial fundraising, planning, design and construction effort, but also is very rewarding on many levels  — personally and professionally,” he said. “You see a lot of camaraderie throughout each event. From a company perspective, it’s an opportunity for employees to hone team-building and collaboration skills in a relaxed, off-site setting. We hope more firms will join us next time.”

Sponsors Critical to Success

“It’s gratifying to see the strong commitment that our sponsors and volunteers have to assisting the Food Bank with our Canstruction RI events,” said Drayton Fair, who directs all other aspects of the committee’s preparations. “Many of our sponsors have participated multiple times. They all are vitally essential to the success of the exhibit, and we are very grateful for their generous support.”

In addition to RIAGC and AIA-ri as organizers and sponsors, many private companies help sponsor each event and the teams rely on other sponsors to fund the purchase of the cans of food for their sculptures.

This year’s event sponsors included: Taco Inc., Cranston; Kasabian Construction, Providence; Andersen Windows & Doors, Bayport, Minn.; Pace Representatives, Braintree, Mass.; and Maloney & Co., Guilford, Conn.  In-kind donors were: General Growth Properties, Providence; Gasbarro’s Fine Wines, Providence; Rhode Island Rentals, Warwick; Inkwell Communications, Providence; and The Color Company, Providence.

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