Around the World with SMMA

SMMA won Most Cans at the 2019 Boston Canstruction Awards Night.

Every year, SMMAers spend months volunteering to plan, coordinate, and design creative masterpieces out of cans. These structures are not only impressive in concept and stature, but also of a philanthropic nature: annual Canstruction design competitions for architects, engineers, and construction companies serve to raise hunger awareness and donate all non-perishable food items to local food banks once the exhibitions end. According to the Boston Canstruction website, “in 2018, the Boston Canstruction competition donated more than 60,000 cans of food from [our] single event – equivalent to 48,000 meals ­– from the participating teams to The Merrimack Valley Food Bank.” This year, the event managed to beat last year’s numbers and donate over 80,000 cans of food.

The 2019 theme, Around the World, provided a particularly fun and exciting challenge for SMMA volunteers. “Ron Wassmer, from our Architecture department, came up with the Mapparium idea inspired by the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston,” says Co-Captain Alyssa Tompkins. “Our Worldwide OpporTUNAty concept developed a couple of different ways as we progressed and as we tried to find the right cans. Overall, we were just very excited about the grandeur. This year – no matter what the concept was – we wanted to go big. We definitely achieved that!”

In fact, the final immersive globe experience utilized a whopping 9,386 cans and stood almost 10 feet tall, earning SMMA the award for Most Cans at the Canstruction Boston Awards and Celebration Night and a shot at an international award in the same category. “We were told that our globe had that ‘wow’ factor,” explains Co-Captain Crystal Kittredge. “Not just because of its size and presence when you walked into the main atrium of the BSA Space, but also because it meant all of those cans go to people who need them most. We are proud to be a part of something so impactful.”

The structure could not have been successful without a massive team effort. SMMA took advantage of its integrated and multidisciplinary firm while also partnering with DC Beane and Associates Construction Company, a partnership the team hopes to continue into next year’s competition.

“It was a lot of work,” Tompkins continues. “We worked with our structural engineers, we had architects, we had designers, we even had people from Accounting and Marketing help out. It was probably one of the most collaborative designs we’ve had in a while, and we were all just so excited about what we were making. We had a lot of fun.”