The $55 million modernization of the U.S. Land Port of Entry facilities at Massena, N.Y. replaced an obsolete 50-year border crossing station with a state-of-the-art complex.

Photo Courtesy Of Gilbane Building Company

The Massena Land Port of Entry processes 2,500 cars and trucks crossing into the United States from Canada daily. Housed within the facility are operations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, Food and Drug Administration and related agencies.

The General Services Administration (GSA) selected Smith Miller + Hawkinson, New York, to design the new complex to increase processing capacity for commercial and noncommercial traffic, accommodate new technologies and improve the overall security of the border crossing. Gilbane Building Company, Providence, R.I., served as construction manager and Northland Associates, Syracuse, N.Y., was the project’s general contractor.

Work on the project, which was completed in December 2009, encompassed construction of a 37,200-sq-ft administration building, two vehicle inspection plazas and canopies, two garages and a warehouse. Roadwork included reconfiguration of the northbound and southbound lanes entering and exiting the country through the Port facility, a new interchange for the nearby General Motors facility and internal roadways and parking lots within the complex.

Designs for the project had to satisfy two seemingly conflicting agendas: meeting the DHS requirements for a secure facility while creating an attractive and welcoming gateway into the United States as mandated by the GSA’s Design Excellence Program.

Buildings and prefabricated booths are constructed of concrete walls and footers with steel reinforcing to a depth of 6-ft. below grade and sit on steel reinforced concrete slabs. Each building consists of a steel superstructure with concrete block walls, architectural concrete and both polycarbonate and metal siding panels.

The main administration building features ballistic observation windows, interior human-high concrete block perimeter walls and an exterior clad in a translucent polycarbonate skin. The shatter-proof polycarbonate wrap provides an additional layer of thermal protection against extremely harsh winter conditions and reduces the need for artificial light by allowing natural light into the structure.

The impact of the 45-acre project site on the local watershed and ecosystem were mitigated by remediating existing low-quality wetlands, creating new wetlands and constructing bioswales, check dams and retention ponds on the property to provide storm water control and filtration.

Installation of state-of-the-art communication, information management and security systems and inspection booths required coordination with numerous government agencies with staff spread across the country. To meet the tight schedule a significant portion of the work was done through the very cold and harsh winter. Temporary heated enclosures were built around construction areas to allow the work to proceed.

Key Players

Developer/Owner: U.S. General Services Administration
General Contractor: Northland Associates Inc., Syracuse, N.Y.
Construction Manager: Gilbane Building Company, Providence, R.I.*
Architect: Smith Miller + Hawkinson,New York

*Submitted Project to New York Construction