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SEPT. 7-14

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More fun than being a kid going to Toys ‘R’ Us to see the huge Empire State Building composed of Legos is being the enviable grown-up behind the scenes who—with every Lego known to humankind—gets to build the thing. Somewhere in the middle range of fun is being able to watch the builder at work. That’s at least part of the idea behind CANstruction (part of “Architecture Week 2002”), an annual event in which local architects construct giant sculptures out of cans of food. (The main idea is to collect food for the Capital Area Food Bank.) Competing teams of CANstructors take it all very seriously, carefully plotting their works-to-be using advanced design software. Then they get six hours to put them together on site, where the installations will be displayed for a week and then judged in categories such as “Best Use of Labels” and “Structural Ingenuity.” Visitors vote for the “People’s Choice” by placing donated cans of food next to their favorite. Some may be disappointed that the works tend toward visual puns rather than buildings. (With the event straddling Sept. 11, expect several variations on the “AmeriCAN” theme.) And purists will certainly sniff at some of the architects’ methods, such as using cardboard as cantilevers instead of relying solely on the structural qualities of the aluminum building blocks. But even the legendary Lego architects have been known to resort to glue when fancy demands. “CANstruction” begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, and the resulting exhibition is on view from 7 a.m. to midnight daily, to Saturday, Sept. 14, at The Shops, 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Free. (202) 667-1798. (David Morton)