The U.S. Land Port of Entry in Van Buren, Maine, sits on a 21-acre site with an appropriately transit-related past: The former railyard now hosts the 32,741-square-foot station (not counting the nearly 14,000 square feet of canopies) that handles the bulk of the commercial traffic crossing the border between Maine and New Brunswick, Canada.
Taking its cue from the surrounding St. John River valley, the team at Minneapolis-based Julie Snow Architects created an envelope that maximizes transparency for monitoring traffic, but also shields areas where security is at a premium. Aluminum panels alternate with silk-screened glazing in a pattern that recalls the tree-lined environment. The building’s Z-shaped form sits atop a field of geothermal wells in a water-conscious landscape. Bright orange interiors in the public-facing offices and checkpoints lend warmth to the structure, even during the long winter months.
Juror David Dowell found the holistic approach to site and structure compelling: “As a northern border crossing, where it is dark most of the time, I like the idea that lighting, landscape, and architecture are really working together to create a place that you might actually want to be,” he said. “I think the key word here is ambition,” juror Sheila Kennedy said. “I think that there is a striving to make something of this landscape.”
Security is paramount in this American Recovery and Reinvestment Act–funded project (which won a Progressive Architecture award for its unbuilt design in 2011), and yet what struck the jury was how cleverly the design hid that from view. “Usually these areas are heavily surveilled high security zones,” juror Cathy Lang Ho said, “but this still reads as very inviting.”
See all of the winners of ARCHITECT's 2013 Annual Design Review here.
For more projects by Julie Snow Architects, please visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.
For more projects by Robert Siegel Architects, please visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.
Project U.S. Land Port of Entry, Van Buren, Maine
Owner U.S. General Services Administration; Public Building New England Regional Office, Boston
Architect Julie Snow Architects, Minneapolis—Julie Snow, FAIA (principal-in-charge); Matthew Kreilich, AIA (project lead designer); Tyson McElvain, AIA (project manager); Mary Springer, AIA (project architect); Pauv Thouk, AIA, Mike Heller, Assoc. AIA, Ryan O’Malley, Tamara Wibowo, Dan Winden, Kai Haller (project team)
Architect of Record Robert Siegel Architects, New York—Robert Siegel, AIA (principal-in-charge); Brad Burns, AIA, Caren Faye, AIA (project architects); Mark Blumberg, Julien Leysenne, Eduardo Ramos, Scott Schwarzwalder, Wayne Walker (project team)
Client Representative Gianne P. Conard, AIA, Chief Architect, GSA Region 1
Structural Engineer Meyer Borgman Johnson; Anastos Engineering Associates (design/build)
M/E/FP Engineer Sebesta Blomberg
Civil Engineer Jacobs Engineering
Landscape Architecture Coen+Partners; Sasaki Associates (design/build)
Security Global Defense Solutions
Cost Estimating Faithful & Gould
Artist Nina Katchuadourian
Civil and Building Engineer Arup New York (design/build)
Life Safety Consultant Fire Risk Management
LEED Consultant Steven Winter Associates
Design/Build Contractor J & J Contractors
Size 32,741 square feet (enclosed); 21-acre site
Cost $30.76 million (construction cost)