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January 26, 2015

National finalist: Platinum award
Magnusson Klemencic Associates

Photo courtesy of Magnusson Klemencic Associates [enlarge]
MKA used a cable-stay system to support the long-span roof over the inspection booths at the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry.

Project: San Ysidro Land Port of Entry modernization
Client: U.S. General Services Administration

Photo courtesy of GSA
This inspection area was daylit to reduce the need for artificial lighting.

Modernization of the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, the Western Hemisphere’s busiest land port, is a project unlike anything attempted anywhere in the world.

It’s a massive, $434 million puzzle with tightly interlocking functional components. A constrained construction zone requiring ship-in-a-bottle-like phasing that averages 50,000 vehicles and 25,000 pedestrians passing through daily. A critical facility with complex and extremely stringent security requirements. An arid location short on water and fighting pollution from runoff, and requiring segmental construction to meet budget and minimize operational constraints.

These components had to fit together, all while meeting the owner’s requirement to create a model port that sets new standards of efficiency, security, aesthetics and sustainability.

These unprecedented challenges were met with the creation of two first-ever systems, each with multiple innovative components:

• Net-zero nonpotable water system: Five separate strategies combine to eliminate the need for “outside” water for nonpotable purposes, saving the U.S. General Services Administration 20 million gallons per year. The system includes an on-site membrane bioreactor to transform water from “black” to clean, and can provide the port of entry with total water self-sufficiency in the event of an emergency or terrorist event.

• “Floating” inspection canopy: New levels of visibility and security are achieved by replacing the 70 columns normally needed to support 770 feet of double-stacked (two per lane) vehicle inspection booths with just four high-performance pylons.

The invention of a cable “quad-stay” support system brings elegance and allows the very-long-span roof to be just 2 feet deep.

The port of entry’s edge-to-edge 39-acre modernization is designed for phased construction. The first phase, which opened in September, includes a 30,000-square-foot primary inspection canopy, a 62,000-square-foot secondary inspection canopy, other buildings totaling 225,000 square feet, advanced security features and 26 vehicle-processing lanes with double-stacked officer booths.

It’s the first-ever 24/7/365 facility to achieve LEED platinum, net-zero energy, and net-zero nonpotable water, with border crossing wait times from Tijuana, Mexico, to San Diego dropping from over three hours to less than 20 minutes.

Protected by the most advanced security approach in the entire U.S. system, the port’s signature mix of structure and architecture creates a welcoming first impression for visitors to the U.S. The modernization project also brings the potential to inject billions into the economies of U.S. and Mexico.

Delivered on time and budget, the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry is a model for not only future ports, but projects of all kinds.

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