Project DescriptionJulie Snow Architects • Border stations serve as both figurative and literal gateways, and this U.S. Land Port of Entry in Warroad, Minn., takes that charge to heart. The 40,000-square-foot facility supports the demands of securing the nation’s border and promoting legal trade and travel. The site design, in particular, manages a complex set of operational issues including the circulation of commercial trucks and passenger vehicles; technologically sophisticated vehicle inspection areas; and officer-training and work areas. Linking the port’s three buildings is a continuous canopy that shelters the outdoor vehicle inspection areas, while still maintaining access to views of the landscape. “It does feel open,” juror John Cary said.
Conceived as a response to the vast open landscape along this stretch of the U.S.-Canada border, the building form recalls the dominant horizon of the landscape while referencing the presence of the east-west borderline, an effect not lost on the jury. “The treatment of the landscape is very integrated into the building,” juror Scott Kilbourn noted. Inflected building forms facilitate an intuitive understanding and use by visitors. Likewise, shifts in the architectural envelope improve visibility of the site for armed officers and accommodate vehicular access to secondary and commercial inspection areas.
Sustainably harvested cedar siding encloses the entire facility—reinforcing the regional identity of the North Woods and contributing to the project team’s hope of attaining LEED Silver status. Vehicle inspection areas and public spaces feature expanses of glass and warm stained cedar siding. The black-stained exterior presents a strong contrast with the landscape and reinforces the threshold, while cedar lining the underside of the canopy creates a material warmth and richness in cold winter months.
Jurors acknowledged the design team’s success at overcoming the limitations of a challenging project type. “There are just so many different functions,” Kilbourn added. “It’s all vehicular and it’s got to be a welcome sign, a holding tank, an inspection center, and a garage. So it’s a very tough challenge. I think the unity of the expression helps this one.”