California artist Robert Gantt Steele feels that city planning and building is a noble calling for those who have a talent for architecture and engineering. As a kid, Gantt Steele was always fascinated by those who built lasting structures and felt there was a sense of pride in the creation of public edifices.
“I really value those who look at the world and create things that put pride into a municipality,” he said.
It’s that significance that served as Steele’s inspiration for the American Public Works Association’s 2012 poster for National Public Works Week titled “Creating a Lasting Impression.” The watercolor poster features the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Steele said that when APWA’s Marketing Manager Jon Dilley suggested making the bridge part of the poster, he was only too happy to comply.
“I live about four miles from the bridge so I cross it all the time,” he said. “Of course it is such a well-known image that I wanted to be careful not to make it kitschy. After all, who hasn’t seen several pictures of it?”
Steele found an angle that he felt was not only visually appealing, but also included an image of Fort Point, a defense structure built between 1853 and 1861 by engineers of the U.S. Army. Steele said it’s a beautiful example of a public works building and a good tie-in to the past. Meanwhile, a family gazes into the future across the iconic bridge.
The APWA has sponsored National Public Works Week since 1960. This year, it takes place May 20-26. Across the nation, more than 28,000 APWA members use the week to energize and educate the public on the importance of the contribution of public works to their daily lives: planning, building, managing and operating the heart of our local communities and building the quality of life.
This year’s theme, “Creating a Lasting Impression” is designed to bring awareness to the never-ending effort of public works professionals to use sustainable solutions to bring their communities the highest possible quality of life within a framework of environmental, social and economic responsibility.
The APWA encourages public works agencies and professionals to take the opportunity to make their stories known in their communities. From parades to displays, media events and an annual Top Ten list of exceptional public works professionals, National Public Works Week is full of celebratory events throughout the country as large and small municipalities everywhere honor their accomplishments for those who live within their communities.
Steele, who has an architecture background and whose work has been used in a number of books, magazines and other exhibits, said that after years of poor city planning, it is wonderful to see so many municipalities throughout the country return to responsible building and create communities that are great places to live, work and play.
“So many places are ruined by bad structures and I think we need to take care to foster talented engineers and builders so that we are creating things that put pride in a town,” he said.