Launch Slideshow

U.S. Land Port of Entry in Calais, Maine.

U.S. Land Port of Entry

U.S. Land Port of Entry

  • U.S. Land Port of Entry in Calais, Maine.

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    U.S. Land Port of Entry in Calais, Maine.

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    Paul Warchol

    U.S. Land Port of Entry in Calais, Maine.

  • The Land Port of Entry in Calais, Maine, is split into two main volumes to accommodate traffic across the border: Noncommercial car and bus traffic is processed through the building on the left, while commercial traffic moves through the building on the right. And a lot of vehicles will pass through: When it opened last year, the U.S. General Services Administration projected that the Land Port of Entry in Calais would become the eighth-busiest crossing on the U.S.-Canadian border.

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    The Land Port of Entry in Calais, Maine, is split into two main volumes to accommodate traffic across the border: Noncommercial car and bus traffic is processed through the building on the left, while commercial traffic moves through the building on the right. And a lot of vehicles will pass through: When it opened last year, the U.S. General Services Administration projected that the Land Port of Entry in Calais would become the eighth-busiest crossing on the U.S.-Canadian border.

    600

    Paul Warchol

    The Land Port of Entry in Calais, Maine, is split into two main volumes to accommodate traffic across the border: Noncommercial car and bus traffic is processed through the building on the left, while commercial traffic moves through the building on the right. And a lot of vehicles will pass through: When it opened last year, the U.S. General Services Administration projected that the Land Port of Entry in Calais would become the eighth-busiest crossing on the U.S.-Canadian border.

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    Courtesy Robert Siegel Architects

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    Courtesy Robert Siegel Architects

  • Most of the buildings surfaces are clad in a custom-designed rainscreen. Expanded-aluminum mesh (with 50 percent porosity) was stamped in a solid-aluminum press (milled with a custom pattern) to give the mesh a crumpled texture that mimics the surface of the granite boulders found on the site. The panels were designed not only as a nod to the landscape, but also to provide important security. Fixed to stucco exterior walls with stainless steel brackets, the panels conceal window openings but still permit a view out for the officers inside. During the day, the sunlight reflecting off the aluminum makes the concealed windows nearly undetectable to drivers passing through, while still admitting daylight. But at dusk, or in shaded areas such as those under the vehicle canopies, the interior lights make the windows visible.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp1238%2Etmp_tcm20-396626.jpg

    Most of the buildings surfaces are clad in a custom-designed rainscreen. Expanded-aluminum mesh (with 50 percent porosity) was stamped in a solid-aluminum press (milled with a custom pattern) to give the mesh a crumpled texture that mimics the surface of the granite boulders found on the site. The panels were designed not only as a nod to the landscape, but also to provide important security. Fixed to stucco exterior walls with stainless steel brackets, the panels conceal window openings but still permit a view out for the officers inside. During the day, the sunlight reflecting off the aluminum makes the concealed windows nearly undetectable to drivers passing through, while still admitting daylight. But at dusk, or in shaded areas such as those under the vehicle canopies, the interior lights make the windows visible.

    600

    Paul Warchol

    Most of the building's surfaces are clad in a custom-designed rainscreen. Expanded-aluminum mesh (with 50 percent porosity) was stamped in a solid-aluminum press (milled with a custom pattern) to give the mesh a crumpled texture that mimics the surface of the granite boulders found on the site. The panels were designed not only as a nod to the landscape, but also to provide important security. Fixed to stucco exterior walls with stainless steel brackets, the panels conceal window openings but still permit a view out for the officers inside. During the day, the sunlight reflecting off the aluminum makes the concealed windows nearly undetectable to drivers passing through, while still admitting daylight. But at dusk, or in shaded areas such as those under the vehicle canopies, the interior lights make the windows visible.

  • The separation of commercial and noncommercial operations into two buildings allowed Siegel to create a secure central courtyard. Hidden from public view by an enclosed bridge at one end and a berm at the other, the landscape designon which the architects collaborated with Sasaki Associatesis a literal interpretation of the sites history as a glacial path. Granite boulders found during site excavation were salvaged and arranged here as a nod to the rocky path left behind by a glacier.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp1234%2Etmp_tcm20-396581.jpg

    The separation of commercial and noncommercial operations into two buildings allowed Siegel to create a secure central courtyard. Hidden from public view by an enclosed bridge at one end and a berm at the other, the landscape designon which the architects collaborated with Sasaki Associatesis a literal interpretation of the sites history as a glacial path. Granite boulders found during site excavation were salvaged and arranged here as a nod to the rocky path left behind by a glacier.

    600

    Paul Warchol

    The separation of commercial and noncommercial operations into two buildings allowed Siegel to create a secure central courtyard. Hidden from public view by an enclosed bridge at one end and a berm at the other, the landscape design—on which the architects collaborated with Sasaki Associates—is a literal interpretation of the site's history as a glacial path. Granite boulders found during site excavation were salvaged and arranged here as a nod to the rocky path left behind by a glacier.

  • A continuous run of uncovered vision glassthe only one in the facilityclads the corridors that face onto the central courtyard. Hidden from public view by a berm, the west end of the courtyard is capped by an enclosed walkway so that personnel can securely travel between the buildings.

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    A continuous run of uncovered vision glassthe only one in the facilityclads the corridors that face onto the central courtyard. Hidden from public view by a berm, the west end of the courtyard is capped by an enclosed walkway so that personnel can securely travel between the buildings.

    600

    Paul Warchol

    A continuous run of uncovered vision glass—the only one in the facility—clads the corridors that face onto the central courtyard. Hidden from public view by a berm, the west end of the courtyard is capped by an enclosed walkway so that personnel can securely travel between the buildings.

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    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp1233%2Etmp_tcm20-396572.jpg

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    Courtesy Robert Siegel Architects

  • Border control officers must meet stringent requirements, such as passing regular firearms certification tests. To that end, the program of the border station includes a shooting range. Not required in every GSA border station, this is the only such facility in Maine. The walls and standard lay-in ceiling are clad in an absorbent acoustical foam which has a convex pattern formed into its surface. The back wall, behind the targets, is a bullet trapa surface composed of rubber pellets that collects the bullets and lead and is periodically cleaned out.

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    Border control officers must meet stringent requirements, such as passing regular firearms certification tests. To that end, the program of the border station includes a shooting range. Not required in every GSA border station, this is the only such facility in Maine. The walls and standard lay-in ceiling are clad in an absorbent acoustical foam which has a convex pattern formed into its surface. The back wall, behind the targets, is a bullet trapa surface composed of rubber pellets that collects the bullets and lead and is periodically cleaned out.

    600

    Paul Warchol

    Border control officers must meet stringent requirements, such as passing regular firearms certification tests. To that end, the program of the border station includes a shooting range. Not required in every GSA border station, this is the only such facility in Maine. The walls and standard lay-in ceiling are clad in an absorbent acoustical foam which has a convex pattern formed into its surface. The back wall, behind the targets, is a bullet trap—a surface composed of rubber pellets that collects the bullets and lead and is periodically cleaned out.

  • The main lobby of the noncommercial vehicle building at the Land Port of Entry is where bus passengers and others stop to show passports and get processed through border control. One of the few public spaces in the complex, the space features a bamboo and stainless steel document-processing desk behind which the border control officers sit. Workstations are concealed by a bamboo wall behind the main desk; a break in the wall allows officers seated at those workstations to have 360-degree visibility. A similar but smaller desk can be found in the public lobby of the commercial traffic building next door.

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    The main lobby of the noncommercial vehicle building at the Land Port of Entry is where bus passengers and others stop to show passports and get processed through border control. One of the few public spaces in the complex, the space features a bamboo and stainless steel document-processing desk behind which the border control officers sit. Workstations are concealed by a bamboo wall behind the main desk; a break in the wall allows officers seated at those workstations to have 360-degree visibility. A similar but smaller desk can be found in the public lobby of the commercial traffic building next door.

    600

    Paul Warchol

    The main lobby of the noncommercial vehicle building at the Land Port of Entry is where bus passengers and others stop to show passports and get processed through border control. One of the few public spaces in the complex, the space features a bamboo and stainless steel document-processing desk behind which the border control officers sit. Workstations are concealed by a bamboo wall behind the main desk; a break in the wall allows officers seated at those workstations to have 360-degree visibility. A similar but smaller desk can be found in the public lobby of the commercial traffic building next door.

  • Most vehicles pass through the Land Port of Entry with little incident, but facilities are available for interviewing travelers and performing secondary inspections on vehicleswhich can include searching the contents of a car or passenger vehicle in this area in the noncommercial traffic building, or unpacking and cataloging the cargo of a commercial vehicle in a separate area on the site.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp123C%2Etmp_tcm20-396662.jpg

    Most vehicles pass through the Land Port of Entry with little incident, but facilities are available for interviewing travelers and performing secondary inspections on vehicleswhich can include searching the contents of a car or passenger vehicle in this area in the noncommercial traffic building, or unpacking and cataloging the cargo of a commercial vehicle in a separate area on the site.

    600

    Paul Warchol

    Most vehicles pass through the Land Port of Entry with little incident, but facilities are available for interviewing travelers and performing secondary inspections on vehicles—which can include searching the contents of a car or passenger vehicle in this area in the noncommercial traffic building, or unpacking and cataloging the cargo of a commercial vehicle in a separate area on the site.

When architect Robert Siegel received the commission to design the United States Land Port of Entry in Calais, Maine, the easternmost border crossing between the U.S. and Canada, he didn’t instantly start sketching—he went on a road trip. In the middle of winter, Siegel and project manager Eduardo Ramos left their New York office, jumped in the car and visited more than 20 border-control stations in the Northeast. Driving back and forth between the two nations was revealing, even as it raised a few patrol officers’ eyebrows. The architecture at each crossing was universally banal, if not downright off-putting: acres of asphalt, bad signage, and antiquated and undistinguished buildings. Not exactly a warm welcome to the United States.

Siegel’s field research led to a 100,000-square-foot facility designed as a gateway for the car and truck traffic that flows into New England. As part of the U.S. General Services Administration’s Design Excellence Program, the border crossing has to strike a careful balance between being inviting and answering the security needs of the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Seen from the highway, the Land Port of Entry’s two low-slung buildings frame a slice of the Maine landscape. Approaching the facility, commercial traffic veers right, where the checkpoint structure is equipped with warehouses big enough to off-load and inspect truck cargo. The left lanes process noncommercial (car and bus) traffic. And while most cars that pass under the large steel canopies get quickly waved through border patrol on primary inspection, some are stopped and the drivers brought into interview rooms for additional questioning and a secondary inspection. A secure detention area is available in the event of a worst-case scenario. (And there’s even a firing range for officer training.) A walkway, tucked out of the public’s view, allows officers to pass between the commercial and noncommercial wings.

The facility is on track for LEED Gold certification, and many of its sustainable features come from attention to the landscape. It sits on top of an aquifer that feeds the nearby town, so bioswales were used to naturally filter runoff back into the water table. Additionally, the design team took care to reduce the amount of asphalt used across the site.

Although an exacting program, environmental constraints, and operational needs drive the buildings’ layouts, a poetic understanding of the landscape inspired Siegel’s scheme. “We looked to the site’s history—it was formed by glaciers scraping across the land. I see cars passing through the border, carving through the landscape, as the modern-day version of the glacier,” he says. A courtyard between the two structures represents that geologic influence quite literally: It’s filled with chunks of granite excavated during construction, repurposed into an artificial moraine—the rock debris left in the wake of a glacier.

Siegel’s fascination with the boulders’ textures also influenced the design of the metal rainscreen that wraps the two buildings. Each 10-foot-tall and 40-inch-wide expanded-aluminum mesh panel is patterned to look like granite. “We created a drawing that has the same gestalt as a rock,” Siegel explains. “Then we made a 3D model of it, creating valleys and ridges.” More than decorative, the metal skin creates a layer of security. When sunlight hits the façade, the mesh appears solid, but ample daylight reaches the interior. The aluminum panels conceal windows cut into the basic stucco walls beneath so that officers on the inside of the buildings can survey all activity, but the public cannot see in. Like many aspects of the Land Port of Entry’s design, the metal screen reveals the tension between the buildings’ two objectives: to be welcoming and to be safe.