A ‘can-do’ attitude: WATG Irvine tackles its fourth Canstruction

For the fourth year running, WATG Irvine joined forces with R.D. Olsen to participate in the 12th Annual Canstruction: a design-build competition where teams create colossal structures out of canned goods, which are later donated to the OC Food Bank along with all proceeds raised during the voting process.

This year’s WATG team, led by Carolyn Chalfant, Ivana Rakshit, Qing Zhu, and core members Hubert Nguyen, Tong Wu, Theodore Lin and Nahid Akram, collaborated with R.D. Olsen’s Kristy Mutch and Jessica Lambrose to design a structure inspired by the film “How to Train a Dragon”. The concept was the result of an in-house competition to see which ideas were most popular and feasible to build.

Starting in mid-February, the team held design charettes resulting in the selection of one of eight distinct ideas. After the final design was selected in March, the team successfully raised over US$2,000 to fund the can supplies in the form of a happy hour, where they raffled off a variety of exciting prizes. Practice builds went on from July through August, entailing several late nights and lots of manual labor to perfect the project.

With 11,600 cans – our largest collection to date – and over forty people involved, six months of planning and test builds, and eight hours to actually build it, here’s what we learned:

  • The importance of a proper workflow: Practice builds were key to testing what worked and didn’t work. It took a lot of creative solutions to help bring this structure to life.
  • Resources, resources, resources: With the help of WATG colleagues who had past experience with Canstruction, we were able to build a solid schedule for the process. Our office fed us several ideas – from gathering prizes for the fundraiser raffle to how to fix structural weakness points during the practice build. (Not to mention, our office was incredibly supportive of our builders, providing dinners and keeping the team motivated!).
  • Power naps! The night of the build, the team went home after work to catch some sleep before the all-nighter construction began. Vietnamese coffee on the night of also goes a long way…

The hours of cutting cardboard and stacking cans is worth it, though. Through our participation, WATG is contributing to Canstruction’s commitment to acting a catalyst for change and helping end hunger in our local communities.

With 1 in 5 children in Orange County going hungry every day, the OC Food Bank helps feed 35% of that population and offers various programs that support not just children, but adults and families in the Orange County area as well. Volunteers receive and package approximately 26,000 boxes of food each month to distribute to fifty sites across the county.

WATG is thrilled to contribute to this worthy cause. Through a huge effort from the team, we were able to raise US$23,000, donate 11,500 cans of food, and take home three awards including Most Cans Used, Structural Ingenuity and People’s Choice.

Congratulations to the organisers and all teams involved on another successful year!