Ambassadors and barriers: progress on US Mexican Embassy and border wall

16 February 2018
Credit: US Embassy & Consulates in Mexico
  • MAGA



Otay Mesa, CA/Mexico City


Ground broken on Mexican embassy, while testing carried out on wall prototypes

Two large-scale federal projects have made a step forward, with the £945 US Embassy in Mexico City breaking ground, and testing underway on the prototypes for the Southern border wall.

Following a process administered by the US Department of State, Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, the team of Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Davis Brody Bond were selected from 54 design portfolios to design a new Embassy, one of the largest such US facilities ever constructed. The architects stated that the design “will speak to the materials and architectural traditions of Mexico in ways that recognize a sense of this place and the long and interlocking histories of the American and Mexican peoples.”

Construction was delayed until a toxic waste cleap up was completed at the 8.5 acre site, formerly home to a Colgate-Palmolive factory, while costs rose as projected Embassy staffing needs grew. With work now ready to begin, the ground-breaking ceremony took place on Tuesday. US Ambassador Roberta S. Jackson said: “Mexico is one of the United States’ closest and most valued partners. We are neighbours with a deep history and a shared future. Today we celebrate the start of a building that will stand as a testament to both – celebrating our friendship and empowering our diplomacy in the years ahead.” Completion is expected in 2022.
Alabama-based Caddell Construction, general contractor for the Embassy, are also involved in a very different US and Mexico-related project, being one of the six companies selected to build prototypes for the proposed wall between the two countries.

Shortly after taking office, President Trump signed an executive order to “immediately plan, design and construct a physical wall along the Southern border". In March last year, the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection issued an intention to solicit firms for the prototype design. Tactical units have now tested the completed structures in San Diego, California, at the Otay Mesa port of entry. They proved nearly impossible to climb, with testing suspended in the interests of safety. One climber managed to reach the top of a wall, but had to be brought down with a cherry picker. All the prototypes withstood attacks with tools such as pickaxes and cutting torches.

An organisation called MAGA (a play on the term “Make America Great Again”) are running a petition to preserve the eight prototypes as land art. Construction on the real wall is dependent on Congress granting approval to the Trump administration’s request for project funding of $1.6 billion.

Lucy Nordberg
TenderStream Research Specialist & Editor

The solicitation for the US Mexican Embassy was first published by TenderStream on 06.01.2012. See the original brief here

The tender for the Border Wall was first published by TenderStream on 01.03.2017. See the original brief  here

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