• The Golden Bucket Award-winning work by Kirksey + Metzger – image courtesy AIA Houston

Despite rescheduling and threats of rain, AIA Houston’s 30th Annual Sandcastle Competition took place on Saturday, August 20, in Galveston. This year, more than 60 teams participated in the event, which has become a staple of the community. Spectators gathered on the beach to watch teams build their creations in a mere five hours. In addition to the first prize Golden Bucket, participants competed for awards such as Best Architectural Icon and Best Meme.

For the second year in a row, Kirksey Architecture + Metzgr Construction won the Golden Bucket. Their sandcastle, titled “Finding Gory,” was an elaborate twist on Disney characters, combining “Finding Dory” with villains from classic Disney movies. The sprawling work of sculpture included a menacing undersea landscape alongside large-scale versions of the characters.

“Kirksey has a tradition of putting a twist on our sandcastle theme to help the work stand out from the crowd,” said Cynthia Helms, AIA, Kirksey member. “Sometimes it’s through mixing two contrasting elements together. This year we turned Finding Dory on its tailfin and used the traditional roles of the characters as they would be in the real world to ignite a scene of energy and ‘gore.’”

Participating teams often practice for months, making models and sometimes even taking sandcastle lessons with professional artists. Themes included “Game of Thrones,” “Winnie the Pooh,” and even “Super Mario Brothers,” many celebrating the 30 years of the competition. Second place, the Silver Shovel, went to DowChemical. Third place, the Bronze Shovel, was awarded to the team from Gensler & Harvey.

Other category winners were as follows:

30th Anniversary Award: Whiting-Turner

AIA College Challenge Award: PVAMU – SOA – AIAS

Best Architectural Icon: FKP – AEI

Best Cinematic: DowChemical

Best Costume: Ziegler Cooper Architects

Best Meme: HKS + JE Dunn Construction + Design Workshop

Best Team Signage: Cre8, Matrix, & Durotech

Best Team T-Shirt: Kirksey + Metzger

Best Traditional Castle: Gensler & Harvey

Houston-Centric: HOK Tellepsen

Kidtastic!- Disney Edition: Kirksey + Metzger

Tallest Standing Structure: DowChemical

The Sydney LeNoir Public Favorite Award: HDR & HPCC

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