Area architects, designers, engineers and contractors gather their trowels, buckets and sunscreen as they get ready for the Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Architects' 27th Annual AIA Sandcastle Competition. Representatives from more than 80 of Houston's most prolific, distinguished and unabashedly gritty architectural/design firms take part in the contest, one of the largest amateur sandcastle build-offs in the world. The designs are inspired by political headlines, pop culture and local lore. A few years back, one particularly creative firm with an eye for whimsy made over the OctoMom as a sprawling octopus holding an offspring in each tentacle. As exciting as the competition is, there’s even more fun to be had the day after the official competition, when the Galveston Bay water eventually reclaims the beach.