AIA Sandcastle Competition







 AIA Sandcastle Competition
Article by Tony Huston
Photography by George Hosek

Have you ever marveled at those incredible, majestic sand sculptures that you always see in pictures or on television? Are you awe-stricken by their creators' talents, and do you find yourself wondering how they do it? Wonder no more!

The magic takes place every summer on the scenic shores of East Beach in Galveston, Texas, and you're invited! On the first Saturday of every June, members of the Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) descend on the warm Texas coast to pit their best sand sculptures against one another for your entertainment. The teams consist of engineers, architects and designers of all disciplines who seek to out do each other, developing sculpture ideas and plans months ahead of the competition.

Best of all, the public is invited come and watch these masters of the sand as they prepare for and build their unique creations, and questions are encouraged. Vote on your favorite build while enjoying live music and refreshments, then stay for the judging and the awards ceremony. Some of the more entertaining award categories are Most Hilarious, Most Lifelike, and Most Patriotic, otherwise known as Stars and Stripes.

First Place Winner by Matrix Spencer Architects


Now for the kicker: the AIA Sand Castle Competition is free! The only fee visitors can expect to pay is the $10 parking fee charged by the Galveston Parks Board, if you get there early there are some free parking spaces just outside the main entrance.

Families are encouraged to bring picnics, and don't forget standard protective items like sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses. Check out the web site for more information, including events leading up to the day of the competition, as well as photos of previous winners. Mark your calendars for next June and come experience the magic!

Second Place, Dow Chemical Sandcastlers
Trip Report by Photographer George Hosek

I left the house at 8:00am thinking I would get to Galveston before the crowds started to arrive, so I could secure one of the free parking spaces just outside the entrance to the event, located on the far east end of  Seawall Boulevard on Boddeker Drive.

Man was I wrong! By the time I got to Galveston around 9:00am I was surprised to see there was already a huge line of cars at the 61st Street exit and heavy traffic on Broadway Street.  I had never been to this event before, I had no idea it was this popular. I decided to see if I could bypass the traffic and took a left on 51st Street to

Third place, CDA Architects
Harborside Drive, took a right on 2nd Street, before I knew it I was on Seawall Boulevard, ahead of all the cars on Broadway and everyone that took Seawall Boulevard. I made it to Boddecker Drive just in time to get one of the last remaining free parking spots. When I got out of the car I couldn't believe what I was seeing! Rows and rows of cars and a whole lot of people.

In the distance I could just make the tops of the tarps/tents where the architects, designers, and engineers  were camped. By the time I got to the exhibit area the magnitude of the event was evident. There must have been over 60 booths with 10 to 20 team members at each one, all hard at work creating  masterpieces made of sand.

PDG Architects
AIA Sandcastle Competition
Around noon you could start to make out what some of the sand structures were going to be, there were castles, sea creatures, pyramids, even a replica of the roman coliseum, Armageddon 2012 was a major theme running through many of the exhibits along with the Mayan calendar. One of my favorites was a huge, very detailed Chinese dragon.

The length of the exhibit area is at least several hundred yards long so be prepared for a lot of walking. The heat can be overwhelming so bring lots of bottled water, of course if you get to hot you can head to the beach and cool of in the water. You can also bring your own food or buy something at one of the many food vendors.

Pfluger, Doomsday Designers
By 3:00 I was exhausted, I had been running around taking photos all day and was glad to hear the judging was about to start. The contestants were making their final preparations, obviously wanting to do everything they could to impress the judges.

The overall winner went to Matrix Spencer Architects -
Bedtime Stories by Mr. Sandman, second place to Dow Chemical - Storytelling with Sand and third place went to CDA Architects - Hugo. Here's a list and photos of all the 2012 winners.

I had a great time, took a lot of photos and meet some amazing people, can't wait to go back next year.

Colby Design, Rome was Built in a Day


AIA Sandcastle Competition




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