Designs for The Insane “Border Wall” Proposal

“By the time bidding closed Tuesday, there was no lack of companies competing to build the wall…proposed for the border between the U.S. and Mexico. In fact, by The Associated Press’ count, upwards of 200 organizations had expressed interest in designing and building it for ‘Customs and Border Protection‘. Despite their common goal, the companies submitting bids have followed some radically different paths in their approach.” C. Dwyer, NPR

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Border fences like this one exist along the U.S.-Mexican border. In Brownsville, Texas, the local consensus is that the fence hasn’t helped anyone except contractors and drug cartels. (Thinkstock photo)


Excerpt: The Many Possible Shapes Of [A]Border Wall, by Colin Dwyer, NPR

“Among the submissions are walls with solar panels, wire mesh and sloped, slippery surfaces. There are even walls that are no walls at all — statements standing instead as protests of a policy that from the start has drawn a lot of resistance…The AP notes the prototypes are expected to cost about $200,000 to $500,000 each; estimates for the cost of the wall covering the 2,000-mile border, however, range up to $38 billion. Here’s a glimpse of just a few of the designs vying to stand between the U.S. and Mexico, complete with renderings and explanations of how they could take shape.”

The WireWall

The WireWall fence now in place in California on the border with Mexico.

The WireWall fence now in place in California on the border with Mexico. Riverdale Mills says the fence is produced using the same manufacturing process as its “marquee marine wire mesh” designed for lobster traps used in New England.’The configurations of the wire mesh make it virtually impossible to climb or cut,’ Jane Meehan Lanzillo, director of corporate communications for Riverdale, tells NPR in an email.

Solar Panels

This rendering depicts solar panels snaking along the border.

Partners, the company behind the proposal, believes that the energy provided by the panels would offer the U.S. a financial boon. The company’s proposal sets solar panels on sections of the wall, generating what it says would be approximately 2.0 megawatts of electricity per hour, according to the wire service.

Maximum-Security Wire Mesh

The Penna Group rendering, which displays two groups on either side watching each other through the mesh. Courtesy of the Penna Group

Composed of high-density steel packed into double wire mesh, the Penna Group’s proposed wall takes its cue from maximum security prisons. Nearly impossible to climb, it would also be built to withstand pick axes, acetylene torches and other handheld weapons. Michael Evangelista-Ysasaga, CEO of the Penna Group, speaks to the aesthetics of the U.S.-facing side of the wall, telling NPR ‘the wire mesh panels will be emblazoned with the Seal of the United States.’

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian Construction Company’s wall, here modeled in miniature, would be paneled according to its Tridipanel system.

It’s impossible to avoid: For a man bidding to build a massive wall, Rod Hadrian has a rather serendipitous name. Namesake of the Roman emperor who built the wall that once marked off the northernmost edge of the ancient empire — the wall that still stands in ruins in the U.K. today — Hadrian Construction Company has proposed a wall constructed in prefabricated panels.

The Wall Of Sound

A Wall of Pipe copy

One of at least three protest proposals ginned up by J.M. Design Studio of Pittsburgh, this one calls for ‘a semi-continuous wall of nearly 10 million pipe organs.’ The long line of 30-foot organs breaks in regular intervals, offering border-crossers the opportunity to walk straight through — but not before playing a ditty of their choosing.

The Wall To End All Walls

Unlike the other proposals on this list, the Otra Nation concept condemns barriers altogether. Courtesy of Otra Nation

‘We propose a trans-national ‘New Deal’ to build an innovative shared co-nation based on local economic empowerment, energy independence and revolutionary infrastructure and transit,’  says the MADE Collective, a cross-disciplinary team that argues for the creation of what it calls the Otra Nation — a ‘regenerative co-nation shared by citizens  of both Mexico and the United Stated and co-maintained by respective governments.'”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. There were submissions with  walls made of solar panels.
  2. There are many protests  against building a wall.
  3. The finalists for the contract will be announced in June.
  4. The companies will be expected to build a prototype of their wall.
  5. Estimates for the cost of the wall covering range up to $38 billion.
  6. Here’s a glimpse of just a few of the designs.
  7. Some companies have renderings of their ideas.
  8. There are mesh walls  designed for lobster traps used in New England.
  9. This wall is virtually impossible to climb or cut.
  10. The Wall Of Sound allows people to play a ditty as they walk through.


Word Map by Against the Odds


Reading Comprehension


Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

The border___should be “a ___of art,” Russ Baumgartner, CEO of Concrete Contractors Interstate of San Diego, tells the AP. The ___service says the company’s ___calls for stones and___set in___concrete, reflecting the areas the wall wends through and___both sides “aesthetically pleasing” — unlike the CBP’s callout, which___ only that the U.S. side be pleasant to look at.

WORD LIST:  artifacts, wire, piece, proposal, asks,   polished, rendering, wall,

Grammar Focus: Word Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

J. Meridian — an art/artist who says the actual/actually broader/border wall is “preposterous for so many reasons,” according to the Wall Street Journal — also proposes/purpose a wall of hammocks and a wall of refugees‘ gravestones/grave  for passersby to “consider the danger, terror, and honor/horror they must have faced in trying to cross.”

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Groups Ask/Answer  Questions

Directions:  Place students in groups and have each group list 3  questions they would like to pursue in relation to  the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.


Category: Social Issues