Six whimsical sculptures took over the amphitheater at the Inner Harbor on Saturday as the annual City Sand festival pitted local architects and designers in a somewhat artistic race.
Competitors, who took their theme from the life and writings of Edgar Allan Poe on the 200th anniversary of his birth, labored for three hours in sandboxes. They each sculpted something Poe-ish from 100 cubic feet of sand. Water made the sand more malleable and the sculptors hydrated in the summer heat.
"Sand is definitely a different medium," said Cherisse Dandrow, a landscape designer with Mahan Rykiel Associates. "It's difficult to work with, but we have pulled it off."
Her team merged replicas of the Colosseum with M&T Bank Stadium.
"We are mixing old and new warriors," said Joe Augstein of Mahan Rykiel. "I have a newfound respect for the Romans."
The team from Design Collective created Natty Poe in the image of Natty Boh. The sculpture held a beer can in one hand and wore a helmet decorated with the numbers of well-known popular Ravens players.
"This is a 21st century Poe for football fans," said Andrew Persons.
KCI Technology re-created the headstone of Edgar Allan Poe that sits in the Westminster Hall churchyard.
"We wanted to go with the traditional rose and cognac theme," said Nicole Formoso, landscape designer. "I know a lot about roses but not how to make them from sand and how can you do a snifter?"
The staff from Hord Coplan Macht built a Nevermore theme park with gold bugs on rails and a Ferris wheel whose cars were named for defunct city companies. Letter carving proved arduous, but "at least we could go with initials for a lot of the companies," said Amanda Fisher.
The team from GWWO, Inc. replicated a scene from The Tell-Tale Heart. It featured a huge hand springing from floorboards. A rose in its grasp lay across an open book. The poet's signature appeared on one page and the title on the other.
"We first thought about burying one of us up to the head in sand, but they told us we can't use props," said Kyle Isfalt, marketing coordinator.
The people's choice award went to Gaudreau, Inc., for a Raven that filled the entire 8-by-10 foot frame. The bird's spread wings featured easily identifiable buildings from the city skyline. The three-judge panel awarded first place to the Colosseum.
"But it was a very close contest," said Thor Nelson, vice president of Baltimore Architecture Foundation and contest coordinator. "Three teams were within a point of each other."