Source:  San Francisco Business Times by Jim Gardner, Managing Editor
Original Article:

If you are walking through the lobby of One Market St. in the next couple of days, don’t be shocked to hear a 7 1/2-foot R2D2 figure beeping while he flashes his lights and swivels his head.

What really might surprise you is that the giant Star Wars robot, engineered by Barry Ralphs of Tipping Mar, is made almost entirely of canned food: 1,562 cans of sweet corn, cheesy ravioli and tuna, with two cans of sardines for the silver buttons.

It’s an entry in San Francisco’s second annual CANstruction fundraiser. CANstruction is an exercise in structural engineering, design and execution with a charitable goal. Architects, engineers, contractors, and others form teams with the objective of designing and building the most out-there sculptures possible using canned foods, which in the end are donatedto the San Francisco Food Bank.

This year, the theme was the film industry — specifically the CANnes Film Festival — and the 12 teams generated 67,000 cans, the largest single-day donation in San Francisco Food Bank history. R2D2 was not the biggest: That honor went to a depiction of a white limo pulling up to a red carpet, requiring 9,172 cans.

But R2D2 presented its own challenges. Ralphs said the robot required two motors to turn its 200-pound noggin. “We had to change motors half way through because the head was so heavy,” he said. “Our firm thinks it’s a great cause to feed the hungry.”

So did others: Companies involved included Huntsman Architectural Group, Turner Construction, GCI, Kwan Henmi, BAR Architects, and ARUP.