If you do, you can enter the competition, which begins soon:
The Dept. of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intends on issuing a solicitation in electronic format on or about March 6, 2017 for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico. The procurement will be conducted in two phases, the first requiring vendors to submit a concept paper of their prototype(s) by March 10, 2017, which will result in the evaluation and down select of offerors by March 20, 2017. The second phase will require the down select of phase 1 offerors to submit proposals in response to the full RFP by March 24, 2017, which will include price. Multiple awards are contemplated by mid-April for this effort. An option for additional miles may be included in each contract award.
It should be interesting to see what emerges.
But that’s not the first “design a wall” competition that’s been held, although I do believe it’s the first sponsored by the government. However, an alternative wall contest was sponsored by these folks:
… a group of architects, designers and artists to initiate thought-provoking and meaningful competitions that are of an interdisciplinary nature…
The announcement of the Competition sparked considerable controversy. Many assumed it endorsed then presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call to build a border wall to keep out illegal immigrants. Its purpose, however, was to elicit serious discussion about the very idea of a border wall. One of the questions proposed by the challenge: “Is the idea patently ridiculous on a purely practical and moral basis?” Entrants were invited to contemplate the deeper issues of a border wall and, indeed, even propose alternatives.
The winners got cash prizes. A sampler of the proposals:
1st Prize (Tie)—Anticipating the eventual exhaustion of the essential resource of water along the U.S.-Mexico border, an “irrigation wall” would draw water from the Gulf of Mexico, the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean, desalinate it and flow it into a channel running the length of border. Possible benefits could include re-vegetation of the desert, creation of agricultural operations on either side of the channel and new bilateral treaty governing the distribution and use of the water between the two countries.
1st Prize (Tie)—Rejecting the current wall as “a fetishized object,” Inflatoborder is a system of flexible bubbles that perform a variety of functions meant to bring communities on either side of the existing wall together. Air pressure is adjusted according to need—creating a canopy, for instance, that shelters roadside markets where it runs through agricultural lands, or creating “play area” enclosures for families and children in densely populated urban centers straddling the border.
2nd Prize—Also rejecting the idea of a fixed wall that divides nations and people, this plan proposes a bi-national park running the length of the border that is “a symbol against difference” where people from both sides can camp, hike and engage in other outdoor activities.
3rd Prize—This proposal, called “Across,” was inspired by Paul Rudolph’s Manhattan Expressway and builds “on architecture’s more social and humanistic intentions” by creating “a flexible membrane which has the capacity to take on programs that are both needed and shared by the inhabitants on either side of the border.”
I am pretty certain that the designers were well aware that these projects won’t come to fruition. They are exercises in imagination (“imagination” in the John Lennon “Imagine” sense). Unrealistic, of course.
Artists might say that our dreams help to create reality. I say that there’s very much of a limit as to how far that can go in the real world, before it meets up with—a wall. To pretend that the situation doesn’t exist, and that problems can be wished away by “symbols against difference” is something pretty rampant on the left. I’m not sure whether the entrants in that contest really believed this, or whether it’s just an exercise in showing what wonderful people they are in addition to what wonderful designers.
The last design competition I remember paying much attention to was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in DC. The design that was chosen—initially controversial—really did end up having a healing, “bringing together” effect. But the architecture of memorials is a very different proposition, utterly symbolic in nature. A border wall is not a memorial. It is functional, although the functional can be designed with esthetics and psychology in mind, too. But my guess is that whatever ends up being approved will be primarily practical—although remember that Trump himself said that the wall will be “beautiful.”