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The Art of Infrastructure

Five projects that explore the intersection of design, engineering, and ecology

Published in the September/October 2013 issue of Orion magazine

THE TERM INFRASTRUCTURE is rarely associated with objects of beauty or cutting-edge creativity. Rather, it suggests a certain bureaucratic blandness, abstractly removed from that which we care about or relate to. Infrastructure can inspire — the Brooklyn and Golden Gate bridges come to mind — but more often than not, it is associated with aging freeway overpasses built to federal specifications and power lines tearing long, unnaturally straight swaths across the land. It comprises the sorts of things we give little or no thought to — such as underground pipes that deliver water or whisk it away — because it’s essentially invisible.

In recent years, a new cohort of creative minds has begun to actively address what may well be our nation’s next generation of infrastructure — an infrastructure that demands innovative, local solutions, but also engages an artist’s eye for detail and encourages community involvement by elevating the human experience. The following projects challenge the maxim that infrastructure must be dull, distant, and often invisible, proving instead that it can be increasingly inventive and scaled to sizes that a community can appreciate. These projects represent small steps toward addressing our nation’s aging infrastructure, but they also help set a higher bar for how we think about it in an increasingly finite world.

Find more from Orion’s new series, Reimagining
Infrastructure, at

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