Wednesday, 30 July 2008
While my days here at the American Society of Civil Engineers are usually spent in serious research on the condition of the nation’s infrastructure and following the policy machinations on Capitol Hill, I have to admit I do have other, less professional interests. The other day while casually surfing the New York Times’ Style Section during my lunch break, I came across a wedding announcement for a couple in Los Angels, Jenna Didier and Oliver Hess. I have to admit that I love reading about the over-the-top, glitzy New York Society weddings usually chronicled in the Times, but this particular announcement interested me for different reasons.
The Didier-Hesses are artists who “specialize in transforming public spaces into spectacles,” and chose the rather unconventional venues of a highway overpass and an urban brownfield as the location of their wedding and reception. While this may not seem like the most romantic spot to start a life together, it makes perfect sense to this couple who had worked together to “transform the area from a drug-infested homeless encampment into a public art space.” The work that this couple does reminds us what an impact infrastructure can have on our lives, and in what ways it can substantially improve it.
If we look back over the history of infrastructure, we see countless examples of improved quality of life. The introduction of clean water standards has dramatically reduced the spread of disease and improved overall sanitation. The interstate highway system has contributed to dramatic economic growth by facilitating travel and goods movement – to name a few. Infrastructure even has an iconic quality – who can think of San Francisco without picturing the Golden Gate Bridge in their head?
If this couple is able to transform and improve the infrastructure in their own community so that it serves a greater use than just for its original design, then the task of improving, modernizing, and expanding the national infrastructure seems just a little less daunting. We all know the needs are staggering and the fight to fix it will be tough, but with conviction and creativity, those goals can be achieved.
In the meantime, congratulations Jenna and Oliver!