Crossings: States of Transition on the Mexican / American Border

Columbia University Spring 2005
Third Year Design Studio

Following the events of September 11th 2001 our world has changed dramatically with regard to security and freedom; the transportation of individuals, vehicles, and products across international borders, most poignantly in the United States has been altered by numerous safety procedures. The U.S. Government has instituted a number of counter measures to combat the occurrence of potential terrorist acts within and along its borders. Consequently, new concerns have developed in the United States regarding security, boundary, civil liberties, and national identity. New procedures have been instituted across America at a number of scales ranging from the investigation of individuals to the monitoring of subversive organizations penetrating the US border.

The movement of persons and information across borders requires ever-changing systems of surveillance, prevention, oversight, control and command. Physical and political boundaries in the United States occur primarily along our extensive land, air, sea, and data borders; these are now currently patrolled with an increased level of scrutiny. These thresholds (at once vast and expansive, focused and dense) are transgressed daily both physically and technologically.

This studio will investigate the need, placement, identity and subsequent design of Crossings at the Mexican/American border. The site exists as a string of cities and rural outposts along the border in Douglas, Arizona, El Paso and Presidio, Texas; Mexican cities along the same border include Agua Prieta, Ciudad Juarez and Ojinaga, respectively. These areas will be explored as potential sites for multiple or individual program interventions.

These borders are gateways subject to changing speed, time, and density. Along the borders and within these gateways, new strategies are being implemented simultaneously to increase commercial exchange and in some instances restrict communal traffic. Conditions at each point of access vary, depending on community ties, commercial exchange and political climate. Conditions also fluctuate due to the ever-changing spatial requirements of the border program. 

Student: Michael Hanslik

Student: Michael Hanslik

Student: Avis Lai

Student: Avis Lai