Calexico West Land Port of Entry
General Services Administration (GSA)
Square Footage: 106,600 (buildings) and 153,800 (canopies)
Paired with Mexicali MX just south of the border, the Calexico Port of Entry architecture, landscape, and infrastructure are predestined to convene as an intersection of the specific environment, rich culture, and civic pride – aspiring to the highest level of design innovation and creativity. The port will be successful if it can be at once bold and ordinary, authentic without being unique or novel, and refreshingly simple in appearance but extremely complex in content and meaning. It should also serve as an example of how to build in an arid climate, doing no harm, using the sun, the wind, the water and the land responsibly.
There are three primary buildings: the pedestrian building, the central administration building and the vehicular secondary/head house building. The buildings are tied together via a shaped landform which rises as high as the top of the first story on the eastern buildings and generally faces south. To the north on either side of the rail corridor, the site is excavated one story down to bring light into the basement level and create private courts accessible from the buildings. Also at the basement level, the pedestrian and administration buildings are linked by a tunnel under the railroad tracks. Part of this tunnel is open air and part is conditioned.
Pedestrian primary inspection occurs in a daylight filled, glazed pavilion space with a 25’ high ceiling. At the center of the site is the central administration building, a three story structure with a basement. It houses the central detention unit, employee support spaces and agency offices. It is a boomerang-shaped building with a single story east-west wing that is tucked under a landform to the south and opens to a landscaped court to the north. The other wing of the building is three stories above grade with the southern end of the building cantilevering over the landform. At the vehicle inspection area there is a pre-primary canopy, a canopy at the primary inspection booths and a secondary canopy. At the basement level, under the roadway between the primary and secondary canopies, is space for a future southbound secondary inspection area. To the west is the southbound inspection booths and canopy and employee parking for 270 vehicles.
When completed, the project will safely and efficiently process pedestrians and vehicles that currently cross on a daily basis, as well as increased traffic flows well into the future. The federal employees, who work at the port, will have a safe and productive work environment which exemplifies the basic tenants that US governmental buildings aspire to: dignity, enterprise, vigor and stability of the American government.