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Photo: Inside the mausoleum at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City. (Avishay Artsy)

The US-Mexican border wall prototypes: a beautiful patch? 10 MIN, 29 SEC

This is one of the three border wall prototypes constructed that people are able
to see through because at least the bottom half is made of spaced steel bars.
Photo by Jenny Hamel/KCRW.

Soon after President Trump took office, he put a call out for builders to come up with designs for a new US-Mexico border wall. Eight entries were chosen and over the last month, contractors have been building the prototypes at a construction site in Otay Mesa, a San Diego community along the border.

KCRW's Jenny Hamel toured the structures with a border guard named Tekae Michael, and says the mammoth sections, made of concrete or a mix of concrete and steel, loom large over the existing "Vietnam-era" fence.

But she suspects the structures -- to be tested soon for durability and penetrability -- are a "visual spectacle" that are unlikely to become a wall. After all, the Department of Homeland Security allocated $20 million for the prototype competition, but building a wall that spans the US-Mexico border would run $20 billion.

What may be realized in the end, she says, is that winning wall types wind up patching up sections of the existing border. The result? Not a "beautiful wall" but maybe a "beautiful patch."

This prototype has a tan brick looking facade with spikes on the top.
All of the prototypes stand at about thirty feet tall,That fence is made of
rusted landing mats from the Vietnam era and stands 8 to 10 feet tall.
Photo by Jenny Hamel/KCRW.

US Customs and Border Protection acting deputy commissioner Ron Vitiello said the construction of these prototypes align with the mission of the agency.

Vitiello said if funding for a border wall isn't secured, one or more of the designs might be incorporated to replace sections of rundown fence. Currently, about one-third of the nearly 2,000-mile border between US and Mexico is lined with fencing or walls.

In mid-November, a private company will conduct testing on the prototypes to see if they withstand climbing, digging or power tools.

The prototypes are a mix of concrete, steel or a combo of both. In this picture,
the wall section with dark blue steel on the top half has a rounded top,
making it less easy to get a grappling hook around.
Photo by Jenny Hamel/KCRW.

While many say there's no appetite in Congress to fund the wall, Trump has demanded it. He has also said that Mexico will pay for the wall. (Mexico says it will not.)

Trump has asked Congress for $1.5 billion to build 75 miles of a border wall in San Diego and parts of Texas. That request is pending.

Jenny Hamel, KCRW (@HamelKCRW)

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Border wall prototypes are unveiled, but Trump's vision still faces obstacles

Renzo Piano's cinematic design for the Academy Museum 6 MIN, 27 SEC

Architect Renzo Piano, speaking to journalists at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
Photo by Avishay Artsy.

Renzo Piano once dreamed of being a filmmaker but he abandoned that idea and became an architect instead, going on to design the Pompidou Center, the new Whitney Museum, the Shard and numerous other global landmarks.

Now he applies a "cinematic" approach to the creation of architectural experience -- and explained how when DnA met him at the site of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, currently under construction at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, in the old May Company building.

DnA also asked museum director Kerry Brougher about the recent upheaval in Hollywood over sexual assault allegations. Brougher explains how the "dream factory," as he calls the museum, might address this dark chapter in the Academy's history.

Renzo Piano, Architect, Renzo Piano Building Workshop (@RPBWARCHITECTS)
Kerry Brougher, Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (@TheAcademy)

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In cemeteries, densifying the dead 10 MIN, 37 SEC

USC professor David Sloane at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.
Photo by Frances Anderton.

In movies and pop culture, cemeteries are often depicted with fog-enshrouded, weathered headstones and lots of creepy carvings. And it's as kitschy as the Halloween holiday itself has now become.

But what about actual cemeteries? Turns out they have gone through many design and planning changes in tandem with changes in our culture. They're also becoming taller and denser, much like cities themselves.

That's according to David Sloane, author of the forthcoming book Is The Cemetery Dead?"

DnA met with him at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, which has both the "suburbanesque" landscape of a memorial park, with lush, rolling green hills and gravestones flush with the ground, and the densified mausoleum where corpses are placed in crypts and cremation urns are placed in niches, stacked on top of each other.

He also told us about what it was like to grow up in Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse, New York, where his father was the superintendent. Friends, he says, were not so keen on coming for sleepovers!

Sloane will speak about changing burial and grieving practices at a conference at USC on November 11 called Under LA: Subterranean Stories.

David Sloane, University of Southern California

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Is the Cemetery Dead?

David Charles Sloane

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