United States Port of Entry


Calexico, CA

The US border crossing between

Mexicali, MX and Calexico, CA

Calexico, CA

Design Philosophy

Calexico explores the unique middle ground between two countries:  It is the transitional space that hosts a blurring of rich cultures, that allows safe, efficient, and dignified passage between two places, and represents a gateway to both places.


The key conceptual feature is the landform which emerges from the sites’ significant topography, and banks against the primary structure, protecting its harsh southern exposure.  It also serves to connect multiple structures housing the pedestrian port, the vehicular port secondary inspection facilities stretched out over 2,000 feet along the border.  On the north, the buildings’ transparent façade, its civic fact to the City of Calexico, is cut into the coolness of the earth creating a cool secure protected place for agents and  a link under the active railroad tracks for access to westerly site functions. The pedestrian inspection pavilion occupies a wide, clean slice through the berm, a picture window through to Calexico, topped by a seemingly floating roof. The third level of the Administrative Building hovers in a dramatic cantilever over the long low berm and becomes a landmark and a dramatic nighttime lantern to this civic place.


The Calexico POE is bold and ordinary, authentic to its place, and refreshingly simple in appearance but extremely complex in content and meaning. Landscape, infrastructure and architecture convene inseparably.



Client Program, Objectives + Features

The project includes demolition, realignment, relocation, and new construction at the existing site of Calexico Port of Entry.    Two-way flow of traffic through the border station will be realigned, expanded, and optimized. Close to 35,000 vehicles and 20,000 pedestrians cross the border in both directions each day and the existing inspection booths are insufficient to adequately serve the current daily border traffic.  The border station will remain in operation throughout the construction phase of the project . The design meets the federal design standards for secure facilities and conformance to the P100 for public buildings.

The program is housed in a series of narrow rectangular buildings ranging from 1 to 4 stories and aligned strategically within the site geometry complicated by intense topography, the New River embankment, an active rail road alignment that bisects the site and the existing facility which will be incrementally demolished. Canopies are essential for human comfort across the site:  31,000 SF pre-primary canopy, a 28,000 SF canopy at the primary inspection booths and a 75,000 SF secondary canopy. The basement level under the roadway (and the railroad tracks) connects the vehicular primary and secondary canopies is a 45,000GSF space shelled for a future southbound secondary inspection.


Design Completion:           2012

Funding:                              2014 (Traditional Design Bid Build Delivery)

Construction Complete:    Phase I - 2019

Construction Cost:             $230,000,000

Building Area:                     117,000 gsf

Canopy Area:                      134,000 gsf

Total Built Area:                  251,000 gsf (plus site development area)

Target:                                 LEED Gold Certification.

by Allison Grace Williams FAIA,  Lead Designer while Design Principal at Perkins+Will)