Hall of Fame
When Engin Artemel relocated from Istanbul, Turkey to Santa Ana, California in 1958, he had $20 in his pocket and virtually no English in his vocabulary. Santa Ana College put him on the road to what ultimately became a brilliant career in public works and administration. “In addition to offering me a good education, SAC helped me with my orientation to the United States, found me a home to stay in and a part-time job in my field. When I earned my AA three years later, I felt ready to face the world. I would not be where I am today if it were not for Santa Ana College,” Engin proclaims.
And look where he is today. After receiving his AA at Santa Ana College, Engin earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture at California Polytechnic College, followed by a BS in Civil Engineering and a MA in Urban and Regional Planning from University of Kansas. He also completed post-graduate studies in public administration. He relocated to George Washington’s home town of Alexandria, Virginia, where he is resoundingly acclaimed for his many achievements as the Director of Planning and Community Development. He can be said to be following in Washington’s footsteps as city planner, as our first President was also surveyor of Alexandria and signed planning documents for the city.
A long-time resident of Alexandria, urban planner, architect and engineer Engin Artemel has been honored with the city’s Living Legend award for his consensus-building in the hotly-contested revitalization of a mile-long waterfront. The decaying industrial waterfront was marred by a rendering plant, arsenic factory, coal depot, and rocket testing facility, and festered with a long, simmering feud over who actually had ownership and responsibility for the area: the Federal government or the city. Bringing together civic associations, environmentalists, and Federal and local government officials, Engin was instrumental in resolving the Waterfront Title Suit, thereby clearing the way for public access to the Potomac River.
By pulling together the concerned parties and delineating the points of agreement and disagreement, he helped them forge a consensus. Next, Engin led efforts to negotiate acquisitions of the property through swaps, donations and purchases. Waterfront Park was born at minimal cost through Engin’s leadership and much compromise, and today the area is a vibrant mixed-use space of beautifully maintained parks, charming townhouses, and bustling businesses. He was able to preserve the fabric of the historic Old Town District while revitalizing its King Street commercial corridor and Potomac River waterfront. He also saved and redeveloped the famous Torpedo Factory into an art center that is one of Virginia’s top tourist attractions.
After leaving public sector employment, he formed Artemel & Associates and began assisting the US Agency for International Development as a planning consultant. Soon he found himself helping Russia, the newly independent former Soviet republics Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, and Bulgaria and Romania in the Balkans transition to a more Western way of governing. In addition to providing his planning and development expertise, he assisted these fledgling democracies in strengthening the institutions of their municipal governments.
A true citizen of the world, Engin also consulted with the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme in their efforts to assist less developed countries. He successfully planned and implemented environmental, energy and infrastructure projects in North Africa and the Middle East. Most recently, Engin has assisted the US Department of Defense and the US Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti by assembling design and construction teams to plan and build US bases against terrorist activities.
When Engin is not travelling, he remains involved in civic activities in his beloved Alexandria, where he lives with his wife Agnes. His family comprises three daughters, Suzan, Deniz, and Sibel, as well as one son, Ali John Pierre, and a grandson, Necati. He continues to serve on various boards and commissions, and has been appointed as the Mayor’s representative to transportation and budget task forces. His firm conducts studies for proposed museums and memorials and assists private sector developers with public outreach efforts for proposed hotel, office and residential properties.
Engin, who entered Santa Ana College with no English skills, is a frequent speaker at universities around the world, as well as at numerous government training sessions. In addition, Engin has been recognized with many distinguished awards, including Business of the Year, George Washington Patriot and Leadership Awards, and Outstanding Planning Awards from the Virginia Municipal League and the American Planning Association. Engin Artemel is not only a master builder of parks, facilities and communities, he is clearly a master builder of a life as an outstanding American citizen.