Editor's note: This story originally published Dec. 8, 2017. We're bringing it back today for National Gingerbread Day.
If you've ever built a gingerbread house, you know that it's a delicate process. In fact, the process often leads to frustration and results in using a glue gun instead of icing to get the house to stand.
Since 2006, David M. Schwarz Architects has challenged leading architects, engineers and contractors to build with materials they aren't as accustomed to: gingerbread, candy and frosting.
The firm draws up a master plan each year based on the principles of good urban planning.
"So what that means is we create sort of dense urban environments that are walkable for the little ginger people," explained Gregory Hoss, the president of David M. Schwarz Architects.
This year, participants in Washington, D.C. were challenged to create an amusement park out of gingerbread.
About a month before the event, the firm starts putting together a master plan, which determines where each team's gingerbread creation will be placed.
While there's no requirements as to what teams build, Hoss said they are encouraged to build within their lot lines.
"We want to make sure everybody is building things up to the lot line because we’re trying to promote good urbanism in Gingertown," Hoss said. "What we believe is buildings that are built right on the sidewalk create better urban environments."
Kyle Veater, the mayor of Gingertown, said this year the firm used approximately 15,400 M&Ms to create the paved streets.
Each of the 55 teams were given about three hours to design and build their gingerbread creations. The gingerbread, two types of frosting and decorative candies are all provided.
Hoss added that teams are allowed to bring their own candy and sketch a design ahead of the event.
"It’s pretty much anything that’s unhealthy and that will decrease your lifespan, you can use in this," he said.
Glue, however, is the one item that's definitely off limits. Instead, the firm provides a glue-like frosting that helps the pieces of gingerbread stick together.
At the end of the night, each of the gingerbread creations are placed in their designated spots along the M&M paved streets.
Once Gingertown comes to life, it remains on display for a week.
From there, the individual creations are divided up and donated, along with the money raised from the event, to local charities.
Veater said the event raised $27,000 so far and that money will be donated to local charities in Washington, D.C.
The same event is also held in other cities across the country including Atlanta, Dallas and Nashville.