Here Lies Hunger: Hennebery Eddy’s Award-Winning ‘Canstruction’ Partnership with INLINE Construction

By Hennebery Eddy

Here Lies Hunger Canstruction Portland Hennebery Eddy Architects INLINE
11 Hennebery Eddy staff partnered with INLINE Commercial Construction to design and build the canstructure

Two design-build partners. One Revit model. Six hours to build. And 3,515 cans.

“Here Lies Hunger” brought home two awards from this year’s Canstruction Portland volunteer competition benefitting the Oregon Food Bank: Best Use of Labels and People’s Choice. Hennebery Eddy teamed with INLINE Commercial Construction to dream up this design-build canstructure paying homage to the original Oregon Trail educational computer game ubiquitous in 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s classrooms.

Team Leader Jacob Simonson: “We realized that if we wanted to have a really successful structure, it needed to be something that someone could relate to and already had some sort of connection to.”

Here Lies Hunger Canstruction Portland Hennebery Eddy Architects
Inspiration from the text-based educational computer game The Oregon Trail.

Over several months, the team sketched a concept, then used building information modeling (BIM) to refine the shape and illustrate the exact placement of cans in detailed plans for each layer. By building the 3-D model, our team was able to determine the exact number of cans needed in each color and find potential structural issues.

Team Member Pooja Kashyap: “I started with direct images from the game, overlaid a can grid that Jacob created, and developed the can layout for the background mountains, and the ox and cart. Stephanie started a sketchup model with can sizes and space constraints. From there, Josette brought the layout into Sketchup, added layers of cans for depth, and developed the ground plane.”

Here Lies Hunger Canstruction Portland BIM model Hennebery Eddy community service architects
A 3-D BIM model built in Revit helped guide the team.

Shopping for cans with the right labels proved a challenge (purple and brown cans were elusive), but research trips to WinCo and Market of Choice and a can-do attitude got the job done. A practice build at the INLINE warehouse helped the team improve structural integrity through the strategic addition of plywood supports.

On build day, the team had six hours to assemble the canstructure at Pioneer Place Mall in downtown Portland, where each Canstruction entry remained on display for one week as part of September Hunger Action Month. All told, the Oregon Food Bank received an estimated 23,000 pounds of food from the annual philanthropic competition.

Team Member Matt Nicholson: “My favorite part was seeing the design that we had carefully planned on paper take form on the floor of the mall one line of cans at a time. I was impressed by how well we organized ourselves on build day — we adapted calmly to a few bumps in the road, and everything went surprisingly smoothly.”

Nostalgia for that storied childhood experience — playing the classic Oregon Trail computer game — inspired this Canstructure. “Here Lies Hunger” envisions a day when food scarcity and its root causes no longer plague our communities. Featuring the iconic ox-drawn covered wagon fording the treacherous river, it encourages us to forge ahead in times of difficulty and continue on the trail to ending hunger.

— Team Mission Statement