Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

School of Art and Design Students Contribute to International Friendship Park Initiative

Professor James Brown’s “Build that Park” campaign reimagines the U.S.-Mexico border Friendship Park into a bi-national park that celebrates unity between the countries.

School of Art and Design Students Contribute to International Friendship Park Initiative

by Gabriela Romero

September 9, 2020

SDSU Art+Design students are presented with an opportunity to make global history. Professor and architect James Brown is including students to help the grassroots coalition for the “Build that Park” campaign, which is eager to give life to International Friendship Park - a small, historic ground made for citizens on either side of the San Diego and Tijuana border to meet.

The coalition will present their reimagined International Friendship Park design with the student’s contributions, to federal and state officials in August 2021; this date coincides with the park’s 50th anniversary.

“It will be because of the power of the citizenry of both countries rejecting the rhetoric that currently permeates the borderlands” that officials will want to move quickly on this project, Brown remarks.

In the coalition’s vision, the current militarized, metal, mesh wall will be taken down to allow the park to expand through dozens of acres along the Pacific Ocean. With a pedestrian border crossing, a pier with conference rooms, interpretive centers, hotels, and restaurants, Brown hopes this lively park will be a “symbol and oasis of trust” for its visitors.

Brown’s three SDSU Art+Design studio classes will use their emerging skills to contribute to the redesigned park model. Over the course of two semesters, students will study scale, conceptual thinking, problem solving and the poetry of design and intention to be among the first in the nation to contribute to this initiative.

Furthermore, students will learn from bi-national parks from around the world, particularly examining the 20 acre Peace Arch on the Canadian border. In researching to execute the campaign, Brown leads the School of Art+Design through SDSU’s Strategic Plan for “Becoming a Premier Public Research University.”

Brown says, “if we are good, and if we are lucky, [the students] will be able to say that they contributed to the creating of a space that the nation, and indeed the world, will take notice of.”

Understanding that the U.S., and Mexico are not fulfilling the Treaty of Guadalupe to “assure the concord, harmony, and mutual confidence” as “good neighbors,” the coalition proposes to carry forth these standards with their design.

Ridding us of the wall “will remind all of us that we are allies, which is the most important element of long term security,” Brown states.

Brown will present the plan for International Friendship Park on Sept. 12 from 2-3 p.m. While the lecture is free, registration is required. Easy registration and more information can be found here:

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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