The moment our appreciation for the role of construction in civilization and society starts to drift, we begin to lose our regard for the resourcefulness that makes the construction world so inspiring. The moment we turn blasé about the wonder of the work, the contributions of all the minds and mighty efforts, we lose our gratitude for the splendid benefits of things as simple as clean running water and a roof over our heads.
We value ENR's annual photo contest because it helps us see construction through the lenses of photographers who are concentrating on capturing the deeper meanings of the industry. We are reminded anew of its significance, and we regain a level of appreciation for it that craftspeople and construction professionals, who work heads-down day after day, may sometimes lose. At the debut of London's Crystal Palace in 1851, for example, one writer remarked how the steel, which started as "coarse, rude particles" in the earth, and the glass plates, which started as "sandy masses without form," had been transformed by "a little fire and art."
Trucks aren't always pretty, yet even the image below of the mud-spattered dump truck, floating in a milky sky above the rubber-tired undercarriage, seems a lovely work of art and a fitting epilogue to a grueling year.
The jobsites, fabrication shops and BIM models on our computers are a kind of magic grotto, to use John Updike's words, where our built environment is made, remade and refined. The public, excluded from jobsites by fencing and security, rarely gets to see the inner workings of this "grotto." The builders, on the other hand, toiling away in the "grotto," may miss the full picture—over time becoming cut off from the meaning of what's taking place. They may lose connection to the ingenuity, heart and integrity behind it all.
We hope this year's photo contest winners reinforce that connection, while capturing moments of respite, moments of success, moments of happiness and moments of trust. Seeing is believing in—as well as appreciating—what you do.