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Trump’s wall plan moves ahead, and design firms are interested

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Some 180 companies have responded to a request for wall concepts in the three days after it was posted

US-Mexico border wall
Workers raise a taller fence in the Mexico-US border area separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, N.M.
AP Photo/Christian Torres

Building a wall along the Mexico-United States border was one of the main pledges of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. And now, five weeks after Trump has taken office, the administration is making moves on the plan to get the wall built.

On Friday, February 24, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted a pre-solicitation notice on the Federal Business Opportunities website announcing an upcoming formal solicitation for a “Design-Build Structure.”

The solicitation, to be issued on or around March 8, will request proposals for the “design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico.”

The rest of the memo covers the timeline of the project:

The procurement will be conducted in two phases, the first requiring vendors to submit a concept paper of their prototype(s) by March 10, 2017, which will result in the evaluation and down select of offerors by March 20, 2017.

The second phase will require the down select of phase 1 offerors to submit proposals in response to the full RFP by March 24, 2017, which will include price. Multiple awards are contemplated by mid-April for this effort.

According to a list of interested vendors obtained by CityLab, some 180 companies have responded to the pre-solicitation notice in the three days since it was posted. As CityLab details, the list includes big names like defense contractor Raytheon, global construction company Caddell, and international architecture and engineering firm Leo A Daly. (UPDATE: On March 6, Leo A Daly issued a statement on its website, saying that it “did not and will not bid on this pre-solicitation;” its initial appearance on the list of interested vendors was due to customary company protocol to “gather more information, to help in planning, or simply to stay posted on important developments in the marketplace,” and the company’s info has since been removed from the list.)

Companies specializing in stationery, infographics, and solar power are also in the mix. Artists make an appearance as well, one of whom listed “#ArtThatWall” as a corporate name.

Fencing already exists along more than 600 miles of the border, and the government plans to begin new construction to cover the rest of the 2,000-mile border by September. Completion is anticipated for the end of 2020 and at a cost of up to $21.6 billion, according to a recent Reuters article citing an internal report by the DHS.

While Trump repeatedly said that Mexico will pay for the wall during his campaign, the updated plan is to seek taxpayer funds from Congress and negotiate a reimbursement from Mexico later.

At the end of January, Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, canceled a scheduled meeting with Trump, saying in a national address, “I've said time and again; Mexico won't pay for any wall.”