Ronald Rael is an associate professor of architecture at UC Berkeley, with a joint appointment in the department of Art Practice. He is the author of Earth Architecture—a history of building with earth in the modern era to exemplify new, creative uses of the oldest building material on the planet—and Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary, the topic of this lecture. The book offers a series of counterpropositions to the militarization of the southern border that is creating a “Divided States of America.”
Rael’s creative practice, Rael San Fratello, established in 2002 with Virginia San Fratello, is an internationally recognized, award-winning studio whose work lies at the intersection of architecture, art, culture, and the environment. In 2014, Rael San Fratello was named an Emerging Voice by the Architectural League of New York—one of the most coveted awards in North American architecture. Their work has been published and exhibited internationally and can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Rael’s teaching, research, and creative work transforms the practice of architecture into a cultural endeavor—one that is defiant, inventive, and tied to contemporary issues. The work relies upon a deep understanding of place and its inherent resources, and makes careful links between a broad spectrum of tools that come from manual, industrial, and digital approaches to making architecture.