We are a democracy. One of the great challenges in the design of a new border crossing for entry to the United States is the balance of American philosophical ideals with the rigor and constant updating of national security concerns.
On the western edge of the continent, a slender ribbon of building stretches across the highway connecting Seattle and Vancouver, it’s form slipping gracefully into the landscape. A new gateway to the nation, the Peace Arch U.S. Port of Entry straddles the tidelands of Semiahmoo Bay and the historic gardens of the Peace Arch State Park, balancing building and landscape to frame the historic monument that gives the port its name. The design preserves the character of this scenic roadway while accommodating 88,300 square feet of new construction including a 34,400 square foot port building with 10 lanes of inbound primary inspection, 40 spaces of secondary inspection and a new highway bridge.
The Port gains its expression from the building’s linear roof, which forms a symbolic gesture that echoes the border and unites the program elements in a single line. The roof is made to visually float by pulling the building in from its edge and by a band of continuous glazing at its underside. Where the program requires greater dimension, the building extends below the roof’s width in a series of boxes. The roof is severed where the northbound highway passes over the building so travelers in both directions engage the building in different ways.
Through careful site composition and minimizing the visible size of built elements, the design accommodates expanded operations with limited disturbance to the surrounding landscape, qualities which contributed to its LEED Gold certification. Within its unique setting, the new Peace Arch U.S. Port of Entry is a gracious manifestation of the values and beliefs of Democracy and the United States of America.