Text by Ian Volner
For all of the critics who’ve claimed, falsely, that the infrastructure investments of the Obama administration’s much-debated 2009 stimulus produced nothing of merit, the Mariposa Land Port of Entry, in Nogales, Ariz., is a stinging rebuke. Phoenix firm Jones Studio has created a piece of bureaucratic machinery that manages to transcend the contentious politics of trade and immigration—not by ignoring them, but by making them the jumping-off point for a poetic reconsideration of national boundaries. With its slatted Cor-Ten steel canopies, elegantly terraced landscaping, and multiple courtyards, staircases, and covered walkways, the complex seems to speak a language of integration and connection, suggesting, in the words of Arizona poet laureate Alberto Ríos, a source of inspiration for firm principal Eddie Jones, AIA, “The border is what joins us/Not what separates us.” It also, incidentally, manages to be a remarkably effective point of entry for thousands of vehicles driving into the United States, as well as thousands more driving southward into Mexico. Mariposa is one of the United States’ busiest land ports, and the site’s previous structure was over three decades old by the time it was finally replaced. Its successor is a high-tech marvel that features solar-powered hot-water heating and a complex system of stormwater collection that’s helped the building score a LEED Gold rating, boosted by such simple, low-tech features as those Cor-Ten slats, which add natural shading to reduce glare on the exterior windows. In its long, flat silhouette and ruddy complexion, there’s even a hint of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, making this project a lot more (as the saying goes) than good enough for government work.
Project: Mariposa Land Port of Entry, Nogales, Ariz.
Client: U.S. General Services Administration
Architect: Jones Studio, Phoenix . Neal Jones, AIA (principal-in-charge); Eddie Jones, AIA (principal designer); Brian Farling (lead designer); Jacob Benyi (project director); Melissa Farling, FAIA, Maria Salenger, AIA, Joanna Noonan, Rob Viergutz, Bill Osborne, J. Barry Moffitt, AIA, Tom Conner, Kevin Jones, Brian Lee, Ashley Kenneally, Brett Marinoff, Nick Nevels, David Takeuchi, Amit Upadhye, Eric Weber (project team)
Civil/Transportation/Security Engineering and Surveying: Stantec
Mechanical Engineer: Associated Mechanical Engineers
Structural Engineer: Bakkum Noelke Consulting Structural Engineers
Electrical Engineer/Lighting Design: Woodward Engineering
Geotechnical Engineer: Western Technologies
Construction Manager: Vanir Construction Management (phase 1); Heery International (phase 2-4b)
General Contractor: Hensel Phelps
Landscape Architect: Chris Winters & Associates; ARC Studios
Wayfinding: Stantec; Jones Studio
LEED Consultant: Green Ideas
Fire Protection: EJ Engineering Group; Stantec
Artists: Matthew Moore (“Passage”); Kimsooja (“An Album: Sewing into Borderlines”)
Size: 115,722 square feet (building); 130,840 square feet (canopy)
Cost: $187 million
This article appeared in the May 2016 issue of ARCHITECT magazine.