Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Joe Morrissey, 518-457-0752,
Dave Bullard, 315-487-7711 x 1377,

July 23, 2013

“Canstruction” Competition to be Held at New York State Fair

Can Architects Build a Structure and Fight Hunger? Yes, They “Can!”

They’ve built functional schools and elegant buildings with concrete and steel, but can five teams of architects build an eye-popping sculpture in less than a day using nothing but cans of food?  Visitors to the Great New York State Fair will be able to watch the drama unfold as the teams race the clock on Saturday, August 24 in the Horticulture Building to set up massive displays that meet the theme and are good enough to compete for honors.

Competitions like this one have taken place around the world for 20 years now, under the auspices of the non-profit organization Canstruction®.  The Society for Design Administrators founded Canstruction as a unique way to use design and construction competitions to raise awareness of hunger.  The organization reports that it has provided food banks and other groups with more than 21 million pounds of food since its founding.

Canned food used in the State Fair competition will be donated to the Food Bank of Central New York and the Rescue Mission.

“We are pleased to be able to present this exciting international competition and proud to be associated with this effort to help people put food on their tables,” said New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Darrel J. Aubertine.  “We believe Fairgoers will enjoy watching the competition and viewing the completed structures and we know they will take to heart the message of compassion for others.”

Five architectural firms will compete in Canstruction at the Fair, which is sponsored by the Central New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects: Open Atelier Architects with the construction firm Lend Lease; King & King Architects; Bivens Architects; QPK Design; and N. K. Bhandari Architecture & Engineering, P.C.  Nicole Standish of Open Atelier Architects, who is co-chair of the event, said that the five firms have been working for several months on their designs.  They’ve had to match the colors they want to the colors available on food can labels and find cans the right sizes for their needs. 

Starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 24, teams of six from each organization will rip into the pallets of cans and begin to bring their digital designs to real life. They must complete their structures that day.  The structures will remain on display throughout the Fair.  Members of the Fair’s Fine Arts judging team will select the winning display, which will receive a plaque and a State Fair blue ribbon. Fairgoers will also be able to vote for the “People’s Choice” award.

“Canstruction is a great way to help with ending hunger in our community and a great way to show young architects a creative way to contribute to the community,” Standish said.  “And the size and scale of the State Fair is ideal for a big event like this.”

The five teams will use thousands of cans of food.  Tops Friendly Markets is providing the food at a discounted price, Standish said.  She noted that the group is working out details to allow Fairgoers to make a contribution to the Food Bank and the Rescue Mission.

The New York State Fair runs from August 22 – September 2, 2013.  The Fair’s theme is “Sharing the Bounty and Pride of New York.” 

In addition to the annual New York State Fair, the Fairgrounds host dozens of agricultural events throughout the year, including some of the Northeast’s most prestigious horse and livestock shows.

The home of the Great New York State Fair is a 375-acre exhibit and entertainment complex that operates all year. A year-round schedule of events is available on the Fair’s website.  Find The Great New York State Fair on Facebook or follow NYS Fair on Twitter. Also, New Yorkers are invited to send their ideas on the Great New York State Fair at

2013 Press Releases