‘Canstruction’ sculptures focus attention on RI hunger problem

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The story of steadily increasing hunger in Rhode Island again has prompted teams of architects, general contractors and engineers to produce seven remarkable Canstruction RI sculptures from canned goods at the Providence Place Skybridge concourse.

On display until Friday, March 21, the free, juried exhibit is designed to raise public awareness of the problem of hunger as well as make a major contribution of non-perishable foods to the R.I. Community Food Bank after the sculptures are “de-canstructed.”

The R.I. Community Food Bank needs increased contributions to continue serving more than 68,000 people each month through its statewide network of 223 member-agency sites. The need for food assistance has grown significantly since 2008, when the Food Bank was serving 37,000 Rhode Islanders.

“In every corner of our state, many families are still continuing to struggle to keep food on the table,” said Andrew Schiff, chief executive officer of the Cranston-based Rhode Island Community Food Bank. “What’s especially heartbreaking is the fact that one third of the people we serve are children under the age of 18. Many of them have parents who have been unable to find work or are trying to make ends meet on low-wage or part-time jobs.

“Every month, it’s a challenge for us to keep up with the persistently high need for food assistance. That’s why Canstruction is so important – it reminds people that hunger is something we must address all year long, and we need everyone’s help,” he continued. “The contribution of food from the project will be put to use immediately feeding people right here in Rhode Island.”

The Canstruction RI competition features awards selected by a panel of independent jurors, and the opportunity for teams to submit photos of winning sculptures to the international competition (see www.Canstruction.org). The juried award categories are Best Meal, Best Use of Labels, Structural Ingenuity and Jurors’ Favorite as well as up to two Honorable Mentions.

Viewers of the sculptures may vote for the “People’s Choice” award through March 19 by visiting Providence Place Mall’s Facebook page. To vote, they may “like” one of the sculptures that will be posted at www.facebook.com/ProvidencePlace and email their vote (along with their name and age) to providenceadmin@ggp.com. In addition to one of the sculptures winning the People’s Choice award, one of the voters will be randomly selected to win a $100 Mall Gift Card.

The Canstruction RI 2014 teams are members or employees of:

Construction Leadership Council of the R.I. Chapter of Associated General Contractors, Providence, and C.A. Pretzer Associates Inc., Cranston

Dimeo Construction Co. and Vision 3 Architects, both based in Providence

Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels Architects, Providence, GTECH Corporation, Providence, Herrick & White, Cumberland, and Odeh Engineers, North Providence

Gilbane Building Co., Providence, and Jo Ann Bentley Architect Inc., Fall River

LLB Architects, Pawtucket, Shawmut Design and Construction, Providence, and Fuzion Design, Pawtucket

Northeast Collaborative Architects, Providence, Veri-Waterman Associates, Providence, Building Engineering Resources LLC, North Easton, Mass., and Kasabian Construction Inc., Providence

Saccoccio & Associates Inc. Architects and DiPrete Engineering, both based in Cranston

“The competition brings together construction, architecture and design firms in a way that plays well to our strengths and allows for good-hearted competition in an industry that is fiercely competitive in the business market,” said Canstruction RI committee co-chair Michael Busam. “It is a fun way of collecting canned goods and generating thousands of pounds of food for the Food Bank from each event.”

Busam has served as co-chair since 2008, primarily directing the activities of the team captains. He is a member of the RIAGC Construction Leadership Council and is a new business development director at Gilbane Building Co.

Drayton Fair, AIA, ALA, LEED AP BD+C, a principal at LLB Architects in Pawtucket and a past-president of AIA-RI, has been co-chair for the event since 2007. He first saw Canstruction events when working at a participating Boston firm and at national AIA conventions, and was eager to help initiate it in Rhode Island.

“Canstruction is a wonderful way for companies and individuals to work together to make a significant impact on the problem of hunger,” he said. “I would encourage other companies to become part of their area Canstruction events or start one of their own with their nearest AIA and AGC chapters. It’s a very rewarding experience.”

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