CANstruction 2018: Let’s Taco ‘Bout Hunger

By: Melissa Jones
4 May 2018

CANstruction is a national hunger awareness event that takes place across the United States and Canada. Teams of architects, engineers, and builders create massive sculptures out of canned goods, which are displayed for a few weeks and later dismantled and donated to the local food bank. 2018 marked the 7th straight year of participation for the Austin office’s team, inspired by CTA architect James Foster, who helps coordinate the event for the Central Texas Food Bank.

The Austin team was focused on capturing the spirit of standout sculptures from previous years: high-level design and execution, larger-than-life scale, and related to food. Of course, they immediately landed on the avocado—what Austinite wouldn’t?—and began brainstorming how they could construct a guacamole-loaded taco of mythical proportions. Unfortunately, the team realized the taco had been done before, so they pivoted toward an adorable, playful palindrome: Tacocat!

Architect-in-training Sarah Holnbeck drafted the initial design, and architect Carolyn Roosen fleshed out a detailed set of plans. Based on the model, the team projected they would use over 2,000 cans—mostly yellow corn to make up the shell, various types of beans to represent the taco filling, black beans for the cat’s head and tail (as well as the letters spelling “TACOCAT”), and olives to take care of the ears.

Detailed plans and a large, enthusiastic crew allowed the structure to be completed in a matter of hours. Build day is a fun and satisfying way to scratch the Lego itch, but the best part of the process is remembering the time and energy is in service of a larger project. After all, these structures are displayed to draw attention to an issue that plagues cities across the US, and then play a small part in helping solve the problem.

Thanks to team members Melissa Jones, Sarah Holnbeck, Carolyn Roosen, Stephanie Bowell, Alane Ebner, Cheryl Peak, as well as Whiting-Turner Construction, a top-notch partner, the team won two awards: Best Use of Labels—the judges were tickled by the tortilla taco shell made of cans of corn—and Most Meals! With over 2,000 cans and $2,000 left over, the team supplied more than 10,000 meals to the food bank. Huge thanks are also extended to Square One Associates, Swinerton Builders, Art+Artisans, Graniti Vacentia, and Trader Joe’s, all of whom generously donated to make this event a possibility.

Donations to the Central Texas Food Bank can be made at The team is already counting down for CANstruction 2019!

CTA has been involved with CANstruction around the country for a number of years. Check out past posts about this incredible event here!

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