PJHM Architects, Inc. participates in Canstruction OC 2011

PJHM had the amazing opportunity this year to be involved in the 4th Annual Orange County Canstruction® Project. Canstruction® is an international community service project put on by the design & construction industry to benefit local food banks where teams of architects, engineers, designers, contractors and/or those professionals mentoring students, associations or businesses compete by designing and building structures made entirely out of canned foods. The Orange County Food Bank distributes close to 19,500,000 pounds of food to over 1,290,758 low-income persons annually. Last year 426,000 pounds of fresh produce was distributed.[Canstruction, 2011]

PJHM has specialized in school design since our inception in 1963, so it seemed only fitting to build a Little Red Schoolhouse for the competition. PJHM Project Manager, Nick Morrissey, headed up the team and provided much needed guidance to them through the process. This was Nick’s second year building structures for Canstruction®. In 2008 he participated in the event for the first time in Kansas City and this year he not only participated but he was on the OC Canstruction® team committee that answered questions and organized informational meetings for the teams.

For everyone else at PJHM, it was their first time and the newbies came across many challenges. Three days before the build, the team went on a mad dash to more than 20 grocery stores throughout San Diego and Orange County looking for the cans. “My favorite part was when my husband and I were walking out of a grocery store with two carts full of cans late Wednesday night and a lady asked us if we were those ‘extreme couponers’.” said Shauna Salazar. “I had no idea you could walk into a grocery store and actually place an order for 1600 cans, and I think the store managers would have felt a little better us doing that as opposed to clearing all their merchandise off the shelf! This year was definitely a learning process but at the end of the day, it just boils down to helping those in need…That being said, I hope next year we blow people away! We may not win for best design, but we had a blast trying.”

The progress through the night and grinning the whole way through...

The progress through the night and grinning the whole way through…

The first shift of the PJHM team showed up at 9pm, Nick laid out the floor plan, and the team immediately went to work! Only 6 people were allowed to work on the project at a time – 5 inside the ‘building box’ and 1 person on the outside sorting the cans. This often seemed to be the most difficult part. “It is so hard to just stand and watch while your teammates are hard at work, we had to constantly be counting how many people were working at a time,” said Shauna. At 11:30, Partner Charlene Yarnall showed up with the second shift and stayed with the project until completion at 3am.

“We had many people in the office who were interested in participating, we just needed to be a little more organized. I think now that we have the experience things will be better next year,” said Nick Morrissey. “This was a good structure for PJHM’s first attempt. I feel like our team worked well together to solve any construction issues that we had to face along the way. It was a pretty simple concept but supplied a lot of meals to the food bank. This year we had 14 different teams participating with almost 68,000 cans. Although this may seem like it could feed an army, it will only last the Orange County Food Bank one week!”

“I was amazed by the creativity and intricacy of all of the teams designs, we definitely made notes on how to improve for next year,” said Charlene. “But most importantly the greatest reward was being involved and helping our community.”

The Little Red Schoolhouse.