Tyler Hopf knows architecture. He has just started wizardry.
The 22-year-old college student and a bunch of his friends combined both arts Tuesday afternoon at the New York State Museum. They were building scenery from the classic film “The Wizard of Oz” as part of the third annual “Canstruction” exhibit on the museum’s fourth floor.
“It’s going to be a giant tornado, the Emerald City and a field of poppies as well,” said Hopf, a senior from Binghamton. “Hopefully, it won’t fall over.”
Securing a witch’s broomstick might have been an easier task — Hopf and his brother and sister architecture students were building their display out of food cans, thousands of them. Nine other teams from Capital Region architecture, engineering and construction firms were also on can design jobs. The friendly competition is designed to raise food inventories and money for The Food Pantries for the Capital District.
This year’s goals are 50,000 cans and $50,000. The exhibit opens today and runs through April 11.
Capital Region Canstruction
WHERE: New York State Museum, 222 Madison Ave., Albany
WHEN: Today through April 11
HOW MUCH: Admission free; canned goods encouraged
MORE INFO: www.nysm.nysed.gov
“I think this offers a great look at teams coming together, building structures,” said Antonia Valentine, a spokeswoman for the museum. “It’s definitely different and interesting; I’ve never seen anything like this in the Capital Region.”
This year’s metal works include a “leprecan,” the world globe, a caterpillar and characters from the 2010 animated film “Despicable Me.”
Hopf and the college crew dressed for their project. Three students wore white cardboard “wings” and red plastic cup “hats” to impersonate flying monkeys. Women in large red head pieces became poppies. A tin man, scarecrow and witch in green face and green stockings were also on the detail.
“It’s just for fun,” said Hopf, who as team captain and wizard wore a shirt, green tie and top hat. “It raises money, . . . but it’s mostly for fun.”
Sara Stein, president of the board of directors for Capital Region Canstruction and an architect with Albany firm EYP, said displays measure 10 feet by 10 feet and can stand as tall as 8 feet. She said participating firms raised money for the event, and used funds to buy canned foods from exhibit sponsor Price Chopper Supermarkets, which sold the goods at cost.
Natasha Pernicka, executive director of The Food Pantries for the Capital District, is happy for the help. She said the event not only brings more food into local pantries, but it raises the awareness of need in the community. Pantries in Albany, Rensselaer and Saratoga counties, she said, provided food for more than 2.5 million meals in 2012. That number represented a 200,000 increase over the number of pantry-provided meals in 2011.
Stephen Van Hoose and his team from Mosaic Associates in East Greenbush considered color when they decided to build a “leprecan” and a rainbow that leads to a pot of gold.
“You want to know what our gold coins are going to be?” Van Hoose asked. “Bumblebee prime fillets tuna fish. They make fine gold coins. Our rainbow is going to be made out of seven Pringles potato chip flavors.”
The chips come in different colored canisters — green for sour cream, orange for cheddar, blue for salt and vinegar, to name a few.
Van Hoose expected he and his crew would use 7,500 cans, and also find color and product placements for Del Monte green beans and Hormel chili. The job would take about eight hours.
“This is great,” he said. “I love this. This is one of my favorite events to do all year. It’s a great challenge for all of us in A-E-C — architecture, engineering and construction.”
While firms compete for business most of the year, the “Canstruction” exercise offers a chance for camaraderie. Stein said people become curious, wondering what other architects and engineers are building.
“Once it starts to become something and everybody figures it out, this fourth floor will burst into applause and different firms will be applauding each other,” she said.
Before applause, there are consultations. Jeff Hodgson and his team from Ryan-Biggs, a Clifton Park structural engineering firm, talked about their project. “We’re attempting to build a globe of the Earth,” he said. “It’s going to be about 8 feet in diameter. . . . It’s a challenge.”
The globe was made entirely of tuna fish cans, blue cans for oceans, tan and green cans for continents. Yellow cans were used for a peace sign the designers decided to give their vision of the world.
Phil Quindara of Rotterdam, marketing manager for Albany’s EYP, said the goggle-eyed “minions” from “Despicable Me” are featured in the company’s 6,000-can statement against hunger. The guys will be shown promoting food collections and stand near a partial globe. Quindara said kids love the characters.
Like other firms, the EYP team first “built” their display on computer models.
“We’ve never seen it built,” Quindara said. “As it’s going up, I think it’s exciting for everyone to see how it comes out in real life. We’ve been building it for the last two months on the computer. It’s very complex.”
Aiming for top 10
The local “Canstruction” exhibit competes with other “Canstructions” held all over the world. Two hundred fifty cities are participating this year, with judges considering number of cans donated and photos of winning designs.
“They rank the top 25 cities at the end of every year,” Stein said. “In our inaugural year, we were number 25. Last year, we were number 13. This year we hope to break the top 10.”
Visitors to the exhibit can help — by bringing canned foods to the museum.