AIA Sandcastle

Saturday June 3, 2017

East Beach
1923 Boddeker
Galveston, TX 77550

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AIA Sandcastle

June 3, 2017

The 31st Annual AIA Sandcastle Competition will take place on Saturday June 3rd at East Beach in Galveston, TX.

Team registration deadline is Monday May 8th at 5pm.  Please review the competition rules linked  below under resources prior to registering your team. Please contact 713-261-2175 or with any questions. We look forward to seeing you on the beach!!

Congratulations to all the 30th Annual AIA Sandcastle Competition Winners:

  • Golden Bucket (1st Place), Kirksey + Metzger  - Finding Gory
  • Silver Shovel (2nd Place), Dow Sandcastlers - SandNuts: Curse You Sand Baron
  • Bronze Shovel (3rd Place), Gensler + Harvey - All Your Junk Are Belong to Us
  • Honorable Mention (4th Place), Team ZCA - Game of Bones
  • Honorable Mention (5th Place), Page-BCI - Slay the Dragon
  • Honorable Mention (6th Place), BGE-HOAR Construction  - The Jungle Book
  • Annual AIA College Challenge, PVAMU-SOA-AIAS  -  Sweeping fluid forms of Beauty. There are 360 degrees so why stick to one.
  • Best Team Signage, cre8 Architects  -  30th Anniversary Labyrinth Movie Tribute to David Bowie
  • Best Team T-Shirt, Kirksey + Metzger - Finding Gory
  • Best Costume,Team ZCA  - Game of Bones
  • The Sydney LeNoir Public Favorite, HDR, Inc. - Little Shop of Horrors
  • Tallest Standing Structure, Dow Sandcastlers - SandNuts: Curse You Sand Baron
  • 30th Anniversary, Whiting-Turner  - 30 Going on 30
  • Best Meme, HKS + JE Dunn  - Look who else is turning 30….it's-a me, Mario!
  • Best Cinematic, Dow Sandcastlers  - SandNuts: Curse You Sand Baron
  • Houston-centric  , HOK/Tellepsen - Urban Octopus
  • Kidtastic! Disney Edition,  Kirksey + Metzger  - Finding Gory
  • Best Traditional Castle,  Gensler + Harvey - All Your Junk Are Belong to Us
  • Best Architectural Icon, FKP/AEI Sandcastle -  Zaha

See pictures of 2016 Sandcastle winners below and visit Flickr to see ALL sandcastle photos!

The AIA SandCastle Competition is a fund-raising event for AIA Houston and ArCH Foundation as well as one of the top five revenue generating events for the City of Galveston. This year over 60 teams have their eyes and shovels set on winning the prestigious Golden 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 Golden Bucket, awards are given in several categories including Best Traditional Castle, Best Architectural Icon, Kidtastic! - Disney Edition, Best Cinematic, Best Meme and Houston-centric as well as best team t-shirt design, best team signage, best costume, and public favorite. At the end of the day, everyone goes home with memories of a great day at the beach filled with fun, sand, and sun.

The event is underwritten by Thomas Printworks.

Event Day

6:30am Beach opens for teams and sponsors
9:00am Public is encouraged to begin to arrive 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.  ADDITIONAL PARKING AND SHUTTLE BUSES WILL BE AVAILABLE FROM STEWART BEACH. 

There is no Metro bus service, train line, or rapid transit to Galveston or the event. Carpooling is strongly recommended. Allow time for traffic and parking.


Feel free to bring your own picnic: be sure to mind the City of Galveston's rules and regulations governing East Beach.  Visit or call 1.409.762.EAST for more information.  Private team and sponsor tents are not open to the public.

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


Please contact East Beach 1.409.762.EAST or visit 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.

If you are interested in particpating in Sandcastle as a team or sponsor please contact Mat Wolff at or 713-520-0155.

Congratulations to Vanessa Poe for designing the 2017 AIA Sandcastle Logo!


2017 Tent Vendors [PDF 197.68 KB]