News Brief

Architects Organize to Oppose Border Wall

The nation’s design professionals are speaking out in great numbers in response to the Trump administration’s agenda, including the plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

A wall already exists in various forms along some parts of the 2,000-mile long border between the U.S. and Mexico. Many in the building industry object to the use of money and design talent to construct an expanded border wall.

Photo: Tony Webster. License: CC BY 2.0.
The design disciplines have been very active in communicating both concerns and priorities to the new administration.  Architects Advocate, a recently formed, nonpartisan network of designers, published an open letter to President Trump and Congress urging meaningful action on climate change. AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) sent an open letter to new EPA Director Scott Pruitt urging him to preserve EPA programs that are critical for architectural practice, including various Energy Star tools and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory. Each letter garnered signatures from over 700 design firms.

More recently, Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), a public-benefit organization focused on the promotion of ecologically and socially responsible development, issued another open letter in response to the Department of Homeland Security’s request for proposals for prototypes of a border wall.

The message of the ADPSR letter is simple: the organization, representing more than 750 members across design professions, rejects any plan to build a border wall. The letter serves to reiterate the professional commitments of the design disciplines to protect public health, safety, and welfare, and describes how involvement with the construction of the border wall would violate the basic ethics of design. Describing the wall as a “project of hatred, racism, violence, and waste,” the letter outlines the organization’s objections to the wall, which include issues of human safety, international relations, and ecological impact.

Beyond stating these objections, the letter argues there are much better uses of both the money (an estimated $21.6 billion) and the design talent that would be involved in the border wall project, calling for these resources to be used instead to support homeland security by upgrading and restoring the country’s aging infrastructure, addressing urgent concerns of climate change in vulnerable regions, and devoting more attention to the nation’s housing crisis.

The ADPSR also encouraged its members to respond to the government’s solicitation by submitting alternative, “protest” bids that focus on supporting human rights and that highlight the design discipline’s investment in creating safe, healthy, humane solutions for the public good.

For more information:

Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility

Published May 2, 2017

Wilson, J. (2017, May 2). Architects Organize to Oppose Border Wall. Retrieved from

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May 23, 2017 - 12:52 pm

Opposition to the Border Wall does not make sense and is very naive. We have a serious problem with terrorism. Even Saudi Arabia is building a Border Wall between it and Iraq.

May 24, 2017 - 10:58 am

Even us Canadians know that the logistics of building a wall on the portion from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico is beyond belief. Do you give the Rio Grande River and accompanying border cities to Mexico by staying well back of the river, or do you usurp the river valley and build the wall on the Mexican side? Either way there are major territorial issues. If you follow the centreline of the river, the wall is 2x as long as it needs to be.