Owner: U.S. Dept. of State
Architect of Record: Page Southerland Page LLP
Design/Bridging Architect: Richard and Kennedy
General Contractor/Construction Manager: BL Harbert International (BLHI)
Civil Engineer: Cowen Design Group
Structural and MEP Engineer: Arup LA

It is not every day that a U.S. contractor has a jobsite in a headquarters city for several large drug cartels. But that was the situation BLHI faced when it built the New U.S. Consulate Compound in Matamoros, Mexico, which is just two miles—though worlds away­—from a U.S. Customs and Immigration Station at the border between the two nations.

The campus includes a chancery, utility building, U.S. Marine Security Guard residence and several support facilities that together total 109,469 sq ft. In its security design, architect Page provided robust solutions that are minimally intrusive.

Before and during construction, the U.S. government and BLHI also paid close attention to security, due to the constant surveillance by the cartels. Their presence permeated construction logistics, both planning and execution.

When BLHI first arrived in Matamoros, its project and business managers were stopped and questioned about their business in the city by cartel personnel. Consequently, BLHI hired a full-time on-site security consultant. In addition, all BLHI U.S. staff lived in the U.S. and commuted daily across the border.

The safety measures, including alternating truck drivers and their routes from the off-site warehouse in Mexico to the jobsite, kept everyone safe, says BLHI. Judges were impressed with how the team managed the high-risk location.

Together, U.S. Dept. of State project personnel, BLHI’s management staff and workers from 29 Mexican states—every one except Quintana Roo and Yucatan—completed the facility within budget and on time. Substantial completion was April 19, 2019.

At the peak, BLHI’s U.S. management team worked with more than 1,000 Mexican employees to construct one of the largest building projects ever completed in Northern Mexico.

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