Reimagining the Borderwall

This post is part of a blog series celebrating the College Art Association annual conference taking place in New York City from February 15–18. Please visit us at Booth 605 if you are attending, and otherwise stay tuned for more content related to our new and forthcoming Art books.


Today in history the Mexican-American War ended in 1848 with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which added 525,000 square miles to United States territory, including the land that makes up all or parts of present-day Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, as well as Texas. It is still by this agreement that we recognize the geographical boundaries of the two neighboring nations.

Today we are also reconsidering the boundary between the United States and Mexico in all kinds of new ways, and the forthcoming book, Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary (coming March 2017) is a highly creative and optimistic re-examination of what the physical barrier that divides the United States of America from the United Mexican States is, and could be.

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“A fascinating book, astonishing and magical: a realm where the absurdity of a wall is transformed from obstructive and negative to an affirmation of shared humanity.”—Judith Torrea, journalist and author based in Ciudad Juárez, México

Author Ronald Rael is Associate Professor in departments of Architecture and Art Practice at UC Berkeley, and one of the founding partners of Rael San Fratello, a creative practice and studio whose work has been recognized by the Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, as well as named an emerging voice by the Architectural League of New York.

UC Press staff were lucky to have him come speak in our offices recently. His fascinating presentation on his background, and other influences on his work in and around the borderlands, was both timely and inspiring.

Watch the video below to hear more about some of optimistic re-imaginings of the existing wall (and any potential future extensions of it that are currently being assessed).

Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary will be available in March 2017—preorder now and save 30% by entering code16W6596 at checkout.