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Galveston's 32nd AIA SandCastle Competition Time Shifts to August

Kirksey + Metzger took home the win in 2017 for Smurf and Turf, winning the coveted Gold Bucket Winner (1st Prize).
Kirksey + Metzger took home the win in 2017 for Smurf and Turf, winning the coveted Gold Bucket Winner (1st Prize). Photo courtesy of AIA Houston
By day architects work hard to make sure buildings are structurally sound, aesthetically pleasing and tick off boxes for sustainability, environmental impact and functionality. But when it comes to the AIA SandCastle competition, it's time to let loose, take a few more chances and possibly win the coveted Gold Bucket award.

And the one to beat this year is the team of Kirksey + Metzger, a triple-threat powerhouse who have won with Smurf and Turf (2017), Finding Gory (2016) and Jurassic Seuss (2015). Last year's Smurf-tastic design not only earned top honors, but it also swept the Best Traditional Castle and Tallest Standing Structure divisions.

We're not sure how they do it — whether their secret is that they burn the midnight oil watching endless videos by sandcastle pros; create elaborate spreadsheets to calculate the exact number of personnel needed to run water, sift sand and fill buckets; or hunker down at some remote, undisclosed beach to build test runs of that year's design.

We know last year's second and third place finishers — Gensler + Harvey and Ziegler Cooper Architects — are breathing down their necks, so this year will be an exciting one. Organizers also have introduced a new category, the Greatest Feat of Structural Ingenuity, so we're betting on seeing arches, bridges, windows and other gravity-defying builds.

The City of Galveston ran some metrics and suggested moving the event from the "high chance of rain" month of June to the statistically better month of August. Sure, the peanut gallery might want to point out that August 25 was looking pretty grim last year but this summer already seems to hold more promise in the precipitation department.

Not only is the AIA SandCastle Competition a fund-raising event for AIA Houston and ArCH Foundation, but it also is one of the top five revenue generators for the City of Galveston. It's also a daylong party for everybody: beachgoers get to watch the amazing structures and badly punned signs, and the teams keep morale up by barbecuing and hosting private bars. We'll never forget one year's pop-up pub, Shipwrecked at the Sandbar, with its "Let's Make Bad Decisions Together" theme and a menu that included Liquid Lohan Mermatinis and Sheen's Sharkbite Shooters.

The AIA SandCastle Competition opens to the public at 9 a.m. August 25, with building continuing throughout the day, judging from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and an awards ceremony at 4:30 p.m. East Beach, 1923 Boddeker, Galveston,
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney