Playing in the Sand at the AIA Sandcastle Competition

PDG Architects AIA Sandcastle 2013

The ‘Poop Deck’ Cruiseliner Complete with Dolphins and Inner Tubes

Imagine a gathering of over 50 Houston-area architecture, design and engineering firms.

Now imagine that this gathering takes place on the beach and that all of the firms are competing – for who can build the best sandcastle. It’s not your everyday business convention. Lucky for us this is a real event; the AIA Sandcastle Competition happens every year at East Beach in Galveston, TX.

Rachel, the new Marketing & Social Media intern was fortunate enough to get an inside look at the competition and help build with the firm PDG Architects. She was so excited about her day at the beach that she wanted to share her experience with the community:

I had no idea that sandcastle-construction could be so complex. It was a process that required a lot of planning, teamwork, and sun block. We set out with some pretty detailed instructions – pages of visuals, measurements and descriptions. The theme of my team’s sandcastle was ‘Welcome to the Poop Deck’, it was a cruise-ship with a giant toilet on top.

PDG Architects AIA Sandcastle

Welcome to the Poop Deck

The first part of the process entailed filling the wooden boxes with wet sand so that they would dry into something we could sculpt. It was somewhat like smashing grapes for wine, the boxes were filled with sand and water while some of us stomped inside of them trying to even them out. Once they were filled to the top we let them ‘bake’ in the sun for about 2 hours and returned to begin the sculpting.

Filling the wooden frames with sand

AIA Sandcastle Construction

We removed the wooden frames and began cutting away the sand that we didn’t need.

Creating the 'Poop Deck'

Constructing the Cruise Boat

The best part of the sandcastle (in my opinion) was the dolphins. It must have been my 3rd-grade obsession with Lisa Frank and her adorable sea creatures that made them turn out so well.

Dolphin Sculpture Made of Sand

Sandcastle Dolphin

As the time limit neared, I felt like I was in a cooking show with only seconds to finish my dish. All of the team members scrambled around scraping off bits of sand here and there and dusting the sculptures with paintbrushes for the perfect finishing touch. All in all, the sandcastle looked great and we even had a little time to spare.

PDG Architects Sandcastle

PDG Architects Sandcastle

It was wonderful to see the Houston business community doing something so…well, FUN! The spirit of the event really hits home with a company like whose CEO, Jay Steinfeld, strives to make the office one of the most fun workplaces in Houston – and has won awards for doing so. Not only is this event great for the Houston business community, it is a gift to the people of Houston who get to enjoy these sculptures every year.

Overall, I was so happy that I got to participate and plan to come back for years to come!

Here’s a peek at some of my favorite sandcastles from the other firms:

About Author

Rachel Gill

Rachel is the Marketing and Social Media Intern and she is SO excited to be a part of the magic. She is often referred to as a Pinterest addict: she can't resist the allure of a good looking recipe or a beautiful home she would love to move into. Check out all of her finds at

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