October 30, 2014

Demonstrating their creativity, teamwork, competitive nature and penchant for fun, hundreds of Bay Area school children, contractors, architects and engineers descended on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach Oct. 11 for Leap’s 31st Annual Sandcastle contest. Leap works with Bay Area public schools to provide arts education programs.

DPR participated on two of the 30 teams in this year’s competition. The contest joins A/E/C professionals with students from throughout the region to raise significant money  – more than $300,000 this year alone.

The theme for 2014, “Food, Glorious Food,” inspired an array of unique creations that transformed a wide stretch of beachfront for the day.

Brad Griffith, project engineer for the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital project, spearheaded the efforts of the DPR team that included volunteers from Stantec and around 50 fourth graders from Central Elementary School in Belmont, Calif. Planning for their project began several weeks ahead with visits to the school. Their creative vision: a pizza sitting next to a spilled beverage.

“We took the opportunity to tie in what we’re doing throughout this (sandcastle build) process and relating it to how we as architect, engineers and contractors build and design on a daily basis,” Griffith said. “The ultimate goal was just to get them excited about learning. Tying their school curriculum and construction and the sand castle build all together was huge.”

Brittany Gilroy and Andrea Walker helped lead the second team, which partnered with Gensler and Ulloa Elementary School for the twelfth year in a row. Planning began three weeks prior, when Gensler and DPR representatives began weekly visits to the school. They led the students in brainstorming and sketching their ideas and developed a model to follow on competition day. Their creation: a “wiener” dog in a hot dog bun, being walked by bottles of ketchup and mustard.

About 15 students and a dozen volunteers from DPR and Gensler teamed for the big day, and the excitement in the air was palpable. “When the buzzer first sounded, the children were really excited,” Gilroy said. “It was great to see everyone kind of dive in.”

Teamwork was the essential ingredient to pull it together, according to Walker. “At one point we had a chain of children in the sand passing water from the ocean. It took a lot of teamwork, and really got everyone involved.”