Border Report

Roundup: Special report from the Texas-Mexico border

Architecture Environment Feature Urbanism
This image was taken from a car on the Mexico side of the Paso Del Norte International Bridge border crossing where U.S. immigration officials are reportedly turning away migrants before they get to the checkpoint at the U.S. border. (Iwan Baan)
This image was taken from a car on the Mexico side of the Paso Del Norte International Bridge border crossing where U.S. immigration officials are reportedly turning away migrants before they get to the checkpoint at the U.S. border. (Iwan Baan)

This past week, The Architect’s Newspaper has published a series of essays from our recently released July/August 2018 issue, focused exclusively on Texas. The collection has been guest-edited by El Paso-based AGENCY and has examined the forces that have shaped the U.S.-Mexico border, and how that border continues to affect the lives of people on both sides.

The following essays offer perspectives on property, landscape, material, and infrastructure that shape the U.S.-Mexico border. The authors illuminate critical spatial practices that destabilize assumptions about the border and the seeming simplicity of its binary divisions and exclusionary logics. These perspectives argue instead for constructive transgressions of this destructive border myth as it is being implemented to advance political agendas. These articles are offered as origin stories of a land, a people, and a space whose origins are routinely questioned and defied, entrenched and overcome.

Photo of border patrol agents stopping people from approaching a border crossing

This image was taken from a car on the Mexico side of the Paso Del Norte International Bridge border crossing where U.S. immigration officials are reportedly turning away migrants before they get to the checkpoint at the U.S. border. (Iwan Baan)

How architecture is aiding detention at the U.S.-Mexico border

In the first part of this series, AGENCY documents how architecture and design aid detention across the U.S.-Mexico border, and how immigrants seeking asylum are turned away before they can enter the U.S. Photos by Iwan Baan accompany the text.

Historic photo

Juárez/El Paso Monorail System terminal design (Courtesy Willivaldo Delgadillo)

The monorail that could have united El Paso, Texas, and Juárez, Mexico

The Juárez-El Paso border area has always been tightly knit, and in the 1960s a hanging monorail could have united the two cities. Now that there’s a renewed focus on the border as an impenetrable barrier, what can we learn from a time when the border was meant to be crossed?

The El Paso-Ciudad Juárez border is heavily industrialized. (Kathy Velikov)

How the Rio Grande came to separate the U.S. and Mexico

The Rio Grande has served as a dividing line between the U.S. and Mexico, but as the river shifts course, so too do the fortunes of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, leading to a host of water management issues in both cities.

Pink remittance house, Jalisco, Mexico (Sarah Lopez)

As remittances flow to Mexico, a new architectural style blooms

The flow of money from the United States to Mexico has encouraged a new style of architecture in Mexico, as residents have used that money to design and construct new housing typologies by hand.

A map of the bancos eliminated in 1905, 1908 and 1909.

A map of the bancos eliminated in 1905, 1908 and 1909. (Jesse Vogler)

How the Rio Grande creates geographical—and legal—loopholes

The continual deposition and erosion of soil by the Rio Grande further muddles the U.S.’s border with Mexico, as the river has historically been used as a dividing line between the two countries.

Prada Marfa is a minimalist, mud brick sculpture, in the middle of the Chihuahuan desert that replicates a luxury boutique. (Lizette Kabre)

Prada Marfa’s immigrant architecture is more relevant than ever

Prada Marfa, conceived during the roiling post-9/11 political era, is an appropriation of native Mexican materials and techniques that satirizes American consumerism; the building is now more relevant to the political conversation than ever, argues one of its designers.

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