The second winner, “Inflatoborder,” does away with the wall entirely as a “fetishized object,” according to a proposal submitted by Michelle Stein, a designer based in Charlottesville, Va.; Shannon Ruhl and Donna Ryu, graduate students from the University of Virginia; and a Honduran architectural designer, Rosa Cristina Corrales Rodriguez.
The concept is for “a system of flexible bubbles that perform a variety of functions meant to bring communities on either side of the existing wall together,” the proposal said. “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.” Try making that out of precast concrete.
Mr. Trump worked with the Department of Homeland Security from the beginning, and “provided D.H.S. explicit guidance on what type of wall that he wants,” said Katie Waldman, a department spokeswoman.
During the campaign, Mr. Trump summed up his requirements: “It’s going to be a real wall, it’s going to be a high wall, it’s going to be a beautiful wall, it’s going to be a wall that works.” But the wall won’t be a “real wall” as much as a “border system” — part increased patrols, part monitoring devices, part lighting and part wall. The barriers Mr. Trump will visit on Tuesday would be built only in what are considered suitable areas, not along the entire 2,000-mile border.
Whether Congress will free up the more than $20 billion that the department estimates the project will cost remains an open question.
Looking at photos of the eight prototypes, Mr. Beckmann said he couldn’t imagine how Mr. Trump would choose. “We’ve reached new heights of absurdity,” he said. “Pun intended.”