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How an artist creates incredible architectural sandcastles

Calvin Seibert has been building sandcastles since he was a child

Is there a work of architecture more ephemeral than a sandcastle? One robust wave and it’s goodbye forever. Still, New York City-based artist Calvin Seibert says that doesn’t matter: “It’s just the process. That’s the territory.”

Seibert has been building—sculpting, more accurately—sandcastles since he was a child playing amid the buildings going up in the ski town of Vail, Colorado. These days, he travels from Manhattan to Rockaway Beach four days a week to create incredible expressionistic structures out of a simple mixture of sand and seawater.

He spends three to four hours on each construction, using an arsenal of basic straight-edged tools that almost look as if they were plastic scraps. Although his work calls to mind some of the great buildings of the modern masters, Seibert rejects comparisons, being open to improvisation instead and letting the sandcastle take its own shape.

The result is an oeuvre filled with Brutalist-inspired pieces with hard edges, tiered and circular shapes, creations with swooping rooflines and geometric detailing, gem-like formations, abstract artworks, and cubist configurations. For an inside look on his process, watch the video above.