Merriam-Webster defines infrastructure as “the basic equipment and structures (such as roads and bridges) that are needed for a country, region, or organization to function properly.” By that definition, there is no requirement to make infrastructure aesthetic to those that see and use it day after day.
However, the incorporation of beauty into infrastructure has been around for hundreds of years, and today this concept is experiencing a rebirth. The Pyramids, Golden Gate Bridge, Randstadrail in the Netherlands, and even smaller scale projects such as ms’ bridge work in Ohio’s Hocking Hills State Park demonstrate how solid engineering with an artistic twist can enhance our everyday experiences with our environment. In fact, many people travel the world to see artfully created infrastructure such as the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
In recent years, infrastructure art has morphed to include the principals of ecology. A great article by Fast Company lists recent infrastructure designs, including the Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility Project. This sewage treatment plant was designed in conjunction with Patricia Johnson, an artist whose large-scale functional art projects incorporate the natural landscape and prove that everyday infrastructure can be functional, beautiful, and green.
With so much of the nation’s current infrastructure in need of replacement, we hope to see the development of more projects that enhance and interact with the world in which we live. Opportunities abound to take the basic building blocks of civilization and transform them into elements that not only support modern society but also inspire, uplift, and feed our spirit.