November 1


Improving the Aesthetics of Our Infrastructure

By Mike Spack

November 1, 2016

art, crosswalk, streets, streetscapes

Our industry has two basic criteria when it comes to public infrastructure:  effectiveness and cost.  Professionals in our industry balance these two criteria in the projects we design/build and the products we specify.

Unfortunately, our utilitarian leanings (and sometimes plain old bad taste) often result in some drab to even ugly streetscapes.  Landscape architects are often brought in to improve the aesthetics of construction projects.

I would like to see us partner more with artists to improve the look and feel of our streets.  We could do a lot better.

However, our elected politicians should probably weigh in on how much of our infrastructure budget should be spent on making improvements.  We are stewards of public money after all.  Or we could partner with non-profits to fund artistic flourishes.

To get your mind working on the possibilities, below are a couple of stunning examples of how we could improve the aesthetics of what we build (thanks to Colossal for aggregating this art).

Crosswalk Art. Christo Guelov painted Funnycross in Madrid, Spain in 2015. Here’s one of a dozen brightly painted crosswalks from

Credit Photo: Rafael Perez Martinez2.


Utility Cabinets. Many cities, including Minneapolis, Minnesota have programs that decorate traffic signal and other utility cabinets. I love how this cabinet in San Francisco, painted by Mona Caron, blends into the streetscape.painted-utility-cabinet


Does your city use art to beautify infrastructure? Share with us examples of artwork you’ve seen around your town.

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Mike Spack

My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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