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Competition exhibits ‘can’-do attitude

A game of chess was at play in

A game of chess was at play in the heart of the atrium in the "Checkmate Hunger" exhibit which used 4,984 cans. It was constructed by Rosenbaum Design Group Architecture and Engineering of Lake Success. (Oct. 28, 2011) Photo Credit: T.C. McCarthy

The second-floor atrium of RXR Plaza in Uniondale is filled with more than 48,000 cans of food that will be donated to Long Island Cares, Inc. - The Harry Chapin Food Bank.

But right now, they’re works of art that would put the Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup prints to shame.

The cans are assembled into 13 structures, ranging from Snoopy to an optical illusion tribute to Harry Chapin. The exhibit opened Friday and will remain on display until Nov. 10, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., after which all the designs will be broken down and donated to the food bank.

“It’s the culmination of quite a few local architectural, engineering, design and construction firms,” said Tracy Lobdell, 54, executive director of CANstruction Long Island. “They have spent literally months designing, planning and test-building all of the structures you see in the exhibit.”

The annual competition is held in more than 100 cities around the world and started on Long Island five years ago when Lobdell -- marketing coordinator for Lockwood, Kessler & Bartlett, Inc., an engineering consulting firm in Syosset -- thought it would be a good way for local design and engineering firms to get involved in local charity.

Judges grant assorted awards based on design and engineering. This year the competition has added a “People’s Choice” category in which the public can pick its favorite structure by placing cans they bring to donate into the bins of their favorite pieces. The design with the most cans in its bin on Nov. 10 will be given that award.

“You can bring as many cans as you want; this is basically a food drive,” Lobdell said. “Please, everyone come and bring as many cans as you can carry. We have plenty of room.”

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