Pensacola, Florida
Sunday September 23rd 2018


Canstruction for the Hungry

By Sarah McCartan

October is an optimal month for most outdoor activities, including Downtown Pensacola Gallery Night. The weather almost begs you to walk about downtown in your lightweight sweater with a to-go cup of wine in hand, and soak up as much of the ambiance as you can during your post-work evening hours, and well into the night.

On top of the usual hoopla, and the art of the more traditional variety, this Friday’s Oct. 18 Gallery Night welcomes structures—constructed of none other than cans—as a part of a national design and build event that goes by the name of Canstruction. Sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), this event brings together architectural and engineering firms throughout communities around the nation, to build out of the box, sizable structures made strictly from canned food items.

Not only does each can of food represent a structural building block of each piece, the project showcases that each can of food serves as a catalyst for change and represents an active step in the fight to end hunger. With the help of local businesses including Seville Quarter, Bay Area Blue Print, and Artel Gallery—the host of the evening’s creations, Manna Food Pantries and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) of Northwest Florida are bringing Canstruction back to the Pensacola community for its sixth year.

“Canstruction is a design competition that local architects take seriously,” explained Christopher Kariher, AIA Northwest Florida Chapter Director/Programs Chair. “It gives local design firms a way to highlight creative talents beyond the typical built environment of buildings, interiors and sites.”

Although the “Canstructures” will be unveiled during Gallery Night, these tedious assemblies require strategic mapping, creativity, and of course—building.

“Teams typically work a couple of months preparing for Canstruction. This includes fundraising, shopping for and ordering cans, and of course, the design of sculptures,” Kariher said.

This design is certainly not a thrown together undertaking, but rather something that is thoughtfully executed.

“Designing creative sculptures typically begins with hand sketches by architects and can even develop into 3D computer models and renderings of sculptures in order to fully visualize design before the entry is actually built,” he said.

Just how many cans are included in each design? To get a better feel for the scope of these projects, individual sculptures can include up to 1000 or 2000 cans with as many as 36 varieties in one sculpture—making the build possibilities that much more colorful.

On top of handing out awards throughout the evening in several categories, such as “Best Use of Labels” and “Judge’s Favorite,” attendees who tour the installations can vote for what will be crowned the “People’s Choice Award.” Be sure to stop by the ATM before you enter Artel so you’ll have some dollar bills on hand. Votes for this public-decided award are made in the form of monetary donations and the winner will be announced at 9 p.m. once the funds are counted. All funds raised as a part of this “People’s Choice Award” voting are used to fill the shelves of Pensacola’s Manna Food Pantries. In years past, the event has made quite a monumental impact on the local community through contributions made to Manna.

“Canstruction has raised over $5,000 since its inception,” said Executive Director of Manna Food Pantries DeDe Flounlacker. “Equally important are the 51,568 pounds of food that have been raised.”

On top of the donations received from voting, this year they hope to raise between six and seven thousand pounds of food that will immediately go toward feeding our local community.

According to Flounlacker, “All money from the event will be used to purchase nutritious food like canned fruit and vegetables, and the food collected will be distributed likely within the next two months.”

For a full listing of this month’s Gallery Night participants, visit

WHEN: 5 – 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18
WHERE: Artel Gallery, 223 Palafox
COST: Free, Voting donations accepted