Penn State architecture students participate in CANstruction State College

Stephanie Swindle
April 25, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A group of Penn State architecture students competed in CANstruction State College, a design-build challenge and charity art exhibition benefiting the State College Food Bank. Members of the American Institute of Architecture Students comprised one of six design teams that built structures out of cans of food on Thursday, April 20, at the Nittany Mall in State College.

“Our goal was to design something that exemplifies the purpose of the event — ending world hunger,” explained Ryan Lo, team captain, architecture major, and AIAS Freedom by Design Project Manager. “After proposing and considering several possibilities, we settled on the theme of Hungry Hungry Hippos, drawing inspiration from the popular children's game. This theme not only represents the very cause of our project, but also evokes a personal connection for those familiar with the iconic game.”

The total amount of cans the team used for their structure was 2,220. All cans will be donated to the State College Food Bank. Although teams do not have official outside sponsors, Wegmans supported fundraising efforts by supplying the cans for all teams.

“Events like CANstruction are a wonderful way to combine the skills we learn in school with volunteer service,” added Lo. 

The team of 23 students rotated shifts throughout the day in order to tackle the design challenge and their class schedules. Due to scheduling conflicts, practice time together was difficult, and the team’s success depended upon the effort of the individual members working on designated parts of the design. Stephanie Bass, one of the team members, explained that the building went better than anticipated, except that some of the can sizes differed slightly.

“We had to make some adjustments as we went along, but we’re architects! That’s what we do!” said Bass. 

The CANstruction art exhibition will be on display to the public through Saturday, April 29. Visitors can vote for their favorite design during Nittany Mall hours and on the CANStruction Facebook page at

The awards ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, April 28, at the Nittany Mall. A People’s Choice award will be presented during the awards presentation. All cans used for the art will be donated to the State College Food Bank.

For more information about CANstruction, watch the interview about the event:

View a gallery of the CANstruction event:

Penn State AIAS participants include: Ryan Lo, Stephanie Bass, Stephanie Rakiec, Shannon Daugherty, Haley Denardo, Thomas Leonard, Nate Steinhauer, Nathan Myers, Alex Mengers, Rebecca Sultz, Jordan Marett, Mieke Kissick, Taylor Conrad, Anna Zaat, Abby York, Katie Abraham, Ryan McCloy, Jessica Molnar, Stephen Ramer, Ashlyn Wilson, Connor McGowan, Klarysa Forcyzk, and Hannah Helmes.         

  • AIAS students build their can design.

    Anna Zaat stacks cans during CANstruction.

    IMAGE: Stephanie Swindle
  • AIAS students participate in CANstruction.

    AIAS students participate in CANstruction.

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Last Updated April 25, 2017