AIA Sandcastle Competition

SAVE THE DATE - Saturday, August 21, 2021

Event is free and open to the public
East Beach parking is $15 (CASH ONLY; NO ATM)

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East Beach
1923 Boddeker
Galveston, TX 77550

Event Underwriter


Gold Bucket



Educational Boards Sponsor

First Aid Tent Sponsor

Friends of Sandcastle


The AIA Sandcastle Competition is a fundraising event for AIA Houston and ArCH Foundation as well as one of the top five revenue generating events for the City of Galveston. Competing teams have their eyes and shovels set on winning the prestigious Gold Bucket Award. Firms begin months in advance generating ideas, developing designs, and assigning duties. On the day of the event the teams, stretched along the beach front, meticulously sculpt their piles of sand and work non-stop for five hours.

The judging of the sculptures is rated on originality of concept, artistic execution, technical difficulty, carving technique, and utilization of the site. In addition to the Gold Bucket, Silver Shovel and Bronze Shovel, awards are given in several themed and revolving categories. At the end of the day, everyone goes home with memories of a great day at the beach filled with fun, sand and sun.

6:30am / Beach opens for teams and sponsors
9:00am / Public is encouraged to begin arriving to watch the competition.
10:00am–3:00pm / Teams compete and build.
1:00pm–3:30pm / Public favorite voting
3:00–4:30pm / Judging
4:30pm / Awards Ceremony

Parking at East Beach Galveston is $15 CASH ONLY, collected by the Galveston Parks Board. There is no ATM.  There is no Metro bus service, train line, beach shuttle service or rapid transit to Galveston or the event. CARPOOLING IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED; ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME FOR TRAFFIC AND PARKING. 

Food/drinks are available for purchase at the East Beach Pavilion and, at their discretion, a limited number of food trucks provided by the City of Galveston.  Feel free to bring your own picnic: be sure to mind the City of Galveston's rules and regulations governing East Beach.  Call 1.409.762.EAST for more information.  Private team and sponsor tents are not open to the general public.

Reserve your beach umbrella & chairs in advance by contacting Beach Buddies at 409.443.5103.

Please contact East Beach @ 409.762.EAST with questions about beach rules regarding pets.

Please respect the hard work of our participants by not touching any of the sand sculptures even after the event. Many spectators visit the beach the next day, on Sunday, to view and enjoy the sculptures. 

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Congratulations to all the 2019 AIA Sandcastle Competition Winners:
Gold Bucket - “The Litter Mermaid” - Ziegler Cooper/Paradigm Construction
Silver Shovel - “Game of Toys” - Kirksey + Metzger Construction
Bronze Shovel - “Deep Blue G” - Gensler/Harvey
Annual AIA College Challenge - “I.M. Pyramid” - Prairie View A&M University
Best Team Signage - “Whale Hello There! - cre8/Durotech/Matrix
Best Team T-shirt- “Game of the Decades - “Walter P Moore”
Best Costume - “Sea on the Rocks” - PGAL/Rogers O’Brien
Most Sustainable Team - “Underwater Disco Party” - Page/
Sydney LeNoir Public Favorite Award - “Winter Isn’t Coming” - Jacobs/Bartlett Cocke
Greatest Feat of Structural Ingenuity - “Game of Toys” - Kirksey + Metzger Construction
Tallest Standing Structure - “Game of Toys” - Kirksey + Metzger Construction
Most Epic Fail - “Whale Hello There! - cre8/Durotech/Matrix
Best Geometric - “Lost Our Marbles” - Kendall/Heaton Associates
Best Marine Life - “Kraken a Cold One” - HarrisonKornberg Architects/Walker Consultants
Best Pop Culture-Decades - “Winter Isn’t Coming” - Jacobs/Bartlett Cocke
Best Houston-centric - “Astroworld: Past and Present” - Stantec
Kidtastic! Fables & Folklore - “Genie’s Beach Vacay” - Kimley-Horn/Method/Alston
Best Traditional Castle - “Lego” - ASCE Houston
Best Architectural Icon - “I.M. Pyramid” - Prairie View A&M University

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If you are interested in particIpating in Sandcastle as a team, sponsor or vendor, please contact Debby Joiner (teams) or Aleks Savitski (sponsors/vendors) or call 713-520-0155.