U.S. Land Port of Entry

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.

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 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 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.

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.

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.

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