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Creative Can Design Helps Feed Hungry

After six hours of building a massive sculpture in the likeness of King Kamehameha entirely from cans of food, employees from design firm WATG learned earlier this month that their creation had won the Jurors’ Favorite award in the seventh annual Canstruction competition at Pearlridge Center.

“We were really pleased,” said WATG architect Leigh Ishida, who was this year’s team co-captain. “We worked really hard with our design, and we practiced hard.”

The theme of this year’s event is “CANtastic Heroes,” and WATG’s winning sculpture is titled “CANmehameha: Hawaii’s Original Superhero.”

“Pretty early on, we all latched onto the idea of using Kamehameha as our theme,” Ishida explained. “We wanted to go in a different direction than we thought everybody else was doing.”

Canstruction brings together local architects, builders and design professionals in competition to create the best sculpture made from canned food ― all of which is later donated to the Hawaii Foodbank.


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Reid Okaneku and Andrea Simpliciano (left) from Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company finish up the helmet for their firefighter sculpture, which won the Best Meal award.

Now in its seventh year, Canstruction has collected more than 204,000 pounds of food for the Foodbank.

Each team is responsible for collecting their own donations as building material. The WATG team gathered about 4,700 cans through an in-house drive and by partnering with Hormel Foods.

“It is such a great cause that all of the food that we raise stays here in Hawaii and helps out the Foodbank,” Ishida said.

On Canstruction day, after hours of practice and preparation, the WATG team brought in about 15 of its employees to construct the winning sculpture.

“It’s a good vehicle for us to stretch our design muscles ― it’s a new outlet for creativity,” Ishida explained, noting that WATG has been involved with Canstruction for several years.

WATG may be the jurors’ favorite, but the verdict is still out on the People’s Choice Award. The sculptures are on display through Sunday, and people have the chance to donate more cans and vote for their favorite. One donated can of food equals one vote.

After voting is completed, the sculptures will be de-canstructed, and all of the food will be donated to Hawaii Foodbank.

Other participating companies included ADM Retail Planning & Architecture, Allana Buick Bers, Bowers + Kubota Consulting, Coffman Engineers, ECC, Group 70 International, HDR, Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, Pankow Builders, RIM Architects, Richard Matsunaga & Associates Architects and Ushijima Architects.