chapter  16
12 Pages

Border Wall as Architecture

ByRonald Rael

By some measures, the US Secure Fence Act of 2006 funded the single largest and most expensive building project in the United States of the twenty-first century. It finances approximately 800 miles of fortification dividing the US from Mexico at a cost of up to $16 million dollars per mile. Known as the Mexico-United States Barrier, the Great Wall of Mexico, border fence and border wall, the construction of this wall has transformed the large cities, small towns, and the multitude of cultural and ecological biomes along its path. It is a utopian scenario, engineered for a conceptual tabula rasa defined by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff who was given unprecedented powers by President George Bush to waive any and all laws in order to expedite the wall’s construction.1 Ignoring the rich and diverse contexts found along the border not only raises critical questions of ecology, politics, economics, archaeology, urbanism and eminent domain (to name a few), it also radically redefines and transforms the territories of the frontera.