Van Buren US Land Port of Entry

This site lies at the transition of both political and physical barriers, overlooking the St. John’s River in Van Buren, Main and sitting alongside the U.S./Canadian border.  The design concept reflects the northern Maine ecology and dignity of the United States Government through beautiful, elegant, and economic materials that are true to place. 


The overall space is characterized by linear interventions which recall the geologic histories of the site and region.  In order to evoke traditional landscape forms from the local forest and potato industries, earthen mounds emerge from the ground plane and extend through the site.  In conjunction, linear drainage swales suggest previous patterns of settlement and land use while expressing and conveying stormwater movement.  The ground plane itself is defined through elegant and simple transitions in surfacing.  Monolithic swaths of concrete, bituminous, and aggregate surfacing highlight vehicular, pedestrian, and recreational circulation areas and speeds.  Native grass plantings and wildflower gardens define the non-occupiable site areas while helping to infiltrate stormwater.  Strategic tree plantings to help reinforce site circulation, movement, and surveillance while defining site lines, edges, and buffers.  The subtle combination of these elements results in a seasonally engaging and contextually meaningful environment for employees and visitors alike.  This place offers an important moment to stop and reflect in a place of contemplation and transition. 


LOCATION: Van Buren, Maine

COLLABORATORS: Snow Kreilich Architects (SKA), Government Services Administration (GSA)

SIZE: 46,000 SF/ 1.0 Acres

RECOGNITION: 2011 P/A (Public Architecture) Award, AIA (SKA), 2014 GSA‘on the boards,’ progressive architecture award, architect magazine (GSA Design Award, Honor Award), 2016 ASLA Merit Award, Minnesota Chapter