Legat Architects and Leopardo Companies volunteers stack their way to stopping Chicago-area hunger with sculpture that celebrates headliners of the 59th Chicago Air and Water Show
[Chicago, IL] – In mid-July, volunteers from Legat Architects and construction firm Leopardo Companies gathered at Leopardo’s warehouse. The challenge before them involved not the usual bricks, concrete, and steel, but rather over 4,000 cans of black beans, diced tomatoes, corn, and black olives.
The plan was to transform the cans, donated by the Leopardo Charitable Foundation, into a sculpture as part of Canstruction Chicago. The competition, now in its 11th year, tasks Chicago-area architecture, engineering, and construction teams to fundraise for, design, and build structures with nonperishable food items. The Legat/Leopardo team determined to create a piece that would pay tribute to the stars of Chicago’s Air and Water Show—the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels.
Watch this time-lapse video to see the Blue Angels Canstruction sculpture come together on Build Night.
After several collapses and more than one design revision, the team finished the sculpture, which depicts three of the blue and yellow jets flying straight up. The structure rises 10 feet from the first floor of the Merchandise Mart, and is one of 24 Canstruction sculptures on display as a giant public art exhibition.
Voting for the People’s Choice Award extends until September 4th. On the 5th, the sculptures will be “decanstructed” and the 100,000-plus pounds of food will be donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which provides food for hungry people throughout Cook County.
A Different Puzzle to Solve
The Legat/Leopardo team’s first brainstorming session resulted in twenty ideas, ranging from Chicago’s culinary classics (e.g, Chicago-style hot dog, deep dish pizza) to the Oval Office. Those ideas were narrowed down to ten, to five, and then finally to the winner . . . which was voted on twice.
The Blue Angels choice turned out to be timely, since the Canstruction exhibit’s opening weekend coincided with the Chicago Air and Water Show.
After an intense search to get the right cans, the team did its first test build at Leopardo’s warehouse. It did not go as smoothly as expected—stacks collapsed, and cans rolled. So the team refined its plans and on the second test build, the tallest jet came together without a hitch. When all the competitors gathered at Merchandise Mart on August 9th for Canstruction Build Night, the Legat/Leopardo team was one of the first to finish.
“This was an enjoyable volunteer experience for all of us,” said Lauren Peterson, who coordinated the Legat team. “It gave us a different puzzle to solve, it challenged us to use our skills in design and construction, and it’s all for a good cause.”
The Cheese Made It
During the ideas phase, the Legat/Leopardo team joked about doing a structure based on a famous Italian building and suggested by a spray cheese-obsessed character in the mid-’90s animated film The Goofy Movie. Though the team decided on a much less cheesy option, it did use spray cheese—cans of Easy Cheese top the noses and wings. The team even put little blue lights atop the cans.
Every year, the Greater Chicago Food Depository serves more than 232,100 households, and its member agency grocery or meal programs benefit 1 in 6 Chicagoans.
Vote for the Blue Angels sculpture now through September 4th.
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