Building Sandcastles to Support Arts in Education

SOM's San Francisco office recently participated in the 35th annual Sandcastle Classic. Billed as the largest sandcastle competition in Northern California, the event benefits Leap: Arts in Education, an organization dedicated to providing arts education programs in Bay Area schools. The event brings architects, engineers, contractors, and designers from local firms together with fourth and fifth grade students to envision, design, and build giant sand sculptures. This year, employees from SOM, Whiting-Turner, BuroHappold, Engineering 350, and Syska Hennessey Group, teamed up with students in the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program (JBBP) at Clarendon Elementary School.

The theme of the event was "Castles, Castles, Castles!" Participants wore shirts that displayed the different teams' coats of arms, and each firm was represented by a flag with its own coat of arms. Competing on the "Emperors of Sand" team, SOM employees worked with students to build a sandcastle in the shape of a dragon with spikes, and towers, on its back.

In the months leading up to the competition, which took place on November 11th at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, employees from the participating firms visited Clarendon Elementary School to meet with students for brainstorming and inspiration sessions and introductory lessons in architecture and design. Additionally, SOM hosted students for a day in the San Francisco office. The young "Emperors of Sand" presented their sandcastle design ideas, talked with architects, learned about structures and scale, and built clay models of their designs.

SOM is grateful to Leap for the opportunity to support arts in education, as well as to all the program sponsors, parents, attendees, and students who made this year's event a success.

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