Architect and Designer Erect Seesaw Wall at U.S.-Mexico Border

by Christopher Blay July 31, 2019

Ronald Rael, the Eva Li Memorial Chair in Architecture at The University of California, Berkeley, has realized his “Teeter-Totter Wall” project, which has existed for the past ten years only as a set of conceptual drawings. The concept was co-authored by Virginia San Fratello, an associate professor of design at San Jose State University. The original concept for the Teeter-Totter Wall was to demonstrate the delicate balances between the U.S. and Mexico, and as Rael describes it, “Where the actions on one side have a direct consequence on what happens on the other side.”

The line of pink seesaws is installed in Sunland Park, New Mexico, near El Paso, and a widely shared video on an Instagram account attributed to Rael shows children and parents on either side of the border on the playground rides. The post reads in part: “One of the most incredible experiences of my and @vasfsf’s career bringing to life the conceptual drawings of the Teetertotter Wall from 2009 in an event filled with joy, excitement, and togetherness at the borderwall.”


Ronald Rael on his temporary architectural structure “Teeter-Totter Wall” at the U.S. Mexico Border.

Early concepts for the teeter-totter incorporate the architecture of the wall itself into the design. The actual construction is a less-ominous pink playground structure that invites riders on both sides to navigate the balance it requires to function.


Rendering of Ronald Rael’s Teeter-Totter Wall, via rrael Instagram. For more, visit

Some of Rael’s unrealized concepts for the space between the wall include a bi-national movie theater, a bi-national library, and a massive xylophone wall.


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