Welcome to the Jungle

Author: Carly Schaefer Published: January 10, 2015

Are we in the right jungle?

-Stephen R. Covey

| As civil and environmental engineers, we must accept that recognition for a job well done will often take the form of indifference. We do our best work when no one does a double take. When people do notice the work we’re involved in, it’s because there’s ponding on the ground, contamination in the water, or someone is being sued. We adjust, clean up, correct—and things return to a functional state. When our work is seamless with its surroundings, whether in the “natural” environment or part of the concrete jungle, it doesn’t stand out.

Some might view the lack of acknowledgement as disheartening; we have a different perspective. Being a player behind the scenes carries its own brand of quiet dignity. Working diligently to ensure that everyone can enjoy the natural and built environments without a visual or environmental scar, we understand how our best work juxtaposes the humble with the excellent.

The Tilikum Crossing Bridge is a visually stunning structure, spanning the shorelines of the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. The bridge, however, is not the project shown in the picture above that has received awards, is already functional, and is ahead of its time. For more information about the imperative but largely unnoticed work on the banks of the Willamette, read on here.

So, are we in the right jungle? Undoubtedly. We are constantly re-training ourselves to recognize the unseen, with the hopes that it will inspire others to do the same. The jungle could use more of us, although most probably don’t know it yet.

—Maul Foster & Alongi