Ronald Rael

Borderwall as Architecture

A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary

University of California Press 2017

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in ArchitectureNew Books in ArtNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Latino StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network November 16, 2018 David-James Gonzales

With the passage of the Secure Fence Act in 2006, the U.S. Congress authorized funding for what has become the largest domestic construction project...

With the passage of the Secure Fence Act in 2006, the U.S. Congress authorized funding for what has become the largest domestic construction project in twenty-first century America. The result? Approximately 700 miles of fencing, barricades, and walls comprised of newly built and repurposed materials, strategically placed along the 1,954-mile international border between the United Mexican States and the United States of America. At an initial cost of $3.4 billion, the most current estimates predict that the expense of maintaining the existing wall will exceed $49 billion by 2032. Envisioned solely as a piece of security infrastructure—with minimal input from architects and designers—the existing barrier has also levied a heavy toll on the lives of individuals, communities, municipalities, and the surrounding environment. In Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary (UC Press, 2017), Professor Ronald Rael proposes a series of architectural designs that advocate for the transformation of the existing 700-mile-wall into a piece of civic infrastructure that makes positive contributions to the social, cultural, and ecological landscapes of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. As both a muse and act of political protest, Rael’s designs challenge us to question the efficacy of the current barrier, while simultaneously stoking our imagination concerning its future.


David-James Gonzales (DJ) is Assistant Professor of History at Brigham Young University. He is a historian of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, the development of multi-ethnic/racial cities, and the evolution of Latina/o identity and politics. His research centers on the relationship between Latina/o politics and the metropolitan development of Orange County, CA throughout the 20th century. You may follow him on Twitter @djgonzoPhD.

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