Miller Canfield-sponsored can sculpture competition returns

 by Cynthia Price

Legal News
The memorable words of the Lorax in Dr. Seuss’s 1971 book of that name,  “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not,” seem to describe  the Canstruction® project and Miller Canfield, who has sponsored it for the second year.
Using entirely cans, one design team in Canstruction® created a replica of some of the objects in Dr. Seuss, tying it in to the charitable giving theme.
The design teams compete to see who can build the best 10 ft. x 10 ft. x 8 ft. can sculptures. After winners are announced, the sculptures are taken apart, and the cans donated to a local food pantry. This year, as last, the recipient was The Salvation Army’s Booth Family Services.
Kendall College of Art and Design again co-sponsored. Kendall senior student and Interior Design major Emily Davison chaired the effort for the second year. Joanne Theisen of Miller Canfield’s Grand Rapids office co-chaired.
New this year, Canstruction® was on display at the West Michigan Home & Garden Show. On Thursday, people who donated new, unopened laundry detergent could participate in a buy-one-get-one-free admission.
The detergent went to Booth Family Services as well.
The consequences of Canstruction®, however, go beyond the benefits to one pantry, because they raise awareness of hunger in the area. Displayed in the main hall of the Home Show, the sculptures drew a lot of
attention and questions, which signage readily answered.. 
Seven design teams competed, including Paradigm Design, Inc., CD Barnes Associates, Inc. and Rhoades Engineering Corp., who created “The Face of Hunger, Africa;”  AMDG Architects, whose sculpture was “MaCANaw Bridge;” Beta Design and Progressive AE, whose entry was “A Healthy Picnic Lunch with a Punch;” Kendall College of Art and Design students, sponsored by Izzy Design, with “CANana,” a large banana; C2AE, who built “The Lorax;” Integrated Architecture; and the Kendall School of Art and Design Student competition winner.
Winners for 2010, chosen by judges Tommy Allen, Lifestyle Editor, Rapid Growth; Gerry Barnaby, on-air personality, WLHT-FM 95.7; John Berry, Executive Director, Design West Michigan; Roger Snider, Public Relations and Communications Manager, The Salvation Army; Brian Swem, president, AIA; and Miller Canfield’s own Jeff York, were: 
Juror’s Favorite, Structural Ingenuity, and Best Use of Labels - “The Face of Hunger, Africa,” which used an unusual overhanging structure for an outline of the continent, filled in with facial features.
Honorable Mentions - “A Healthy Picnic Lunch with a Punch”  and “CANana.”
Best Meal, reflecting the fact that cans are chosen for their compatibility in creating a good  meal: “MaCANaw Bridge,” which also won the People’s Choice Award, based on the  “votes” cast at the Home & Garden Show in the form of dollars placed in a receptacle.
All of the winners will now be submitted to compete in an international competition with winners of the other 32 cities sponsoring Canstruction® events. The entries are submitted photographically, with no need to recreate the sculptures.
When all was said and done this year, over 11,000 cans were sent over to the pantry, along with the laundry detergent and the vote-casting money.
The Salvation Army’s Booth Family Services is a member of the ACCESS Pantry Network. ACCESS coordinates most of the large pantries in Kent County; it is unusual to have that level of coordination anywhere in the U.S. For more information, visit
A slide show of national Canstruction® entries can be found at For photos from the 2009 Grand Rapids competition, click on “Participating Cities.”