United States Land Port of Entry, Columbus, New Mexico

Architect:  Richter Architects

Owner: United States General Services Administration

Location: Columbus, New Mexico

Project site: Previously developed land

Building program type(s): Laboratory, Office – 10,001 to 100,000sf, Public Order and Safety – General, Service, Warehouse and Storage – General, and Other

The project is a remote port of entry in the Chihuahuan Desert adjacent to Puerto Palomas, Mexico. Best known for its frontier history and Pancho Villa’s brief incursion, this border crossing now accommodates daily pedestrians, private vehicles, commercial (primarily agricultural) goods, and 800-plus school children who cross each day to go to school in the United States.

Pedestrian approach from Mexico

"A port of entry is a challenging building type. The designers in this project not only met that challenge, but achieved more by showing us how the architecture of any kind can make human environments healthy and dignified. This is a thoughtful, durable building made to last." - Jury comment

While providing safe, efficient, and expanded international entry processing for people and goods, this new port of entry design aspires to welcome travelers to America with architecture that inspires and conveys our country’s better virtues—architecture that serves and respects all people, embraces culture, conserves resources, nurtures ecology, protects habitat, celebrates diversity, and conveys a love of the land. The design’s integrated and expressed response to this breadth of sustainability opportunities is the mechanism for creating and conveying this message. The rhythm and silhouette of photovoltaic, clerestoried roof monitors echo distant mountains. Colored brick strata and weathered steel extend the patterns of earth and grasses that reach the horizon. Terraced native landscaping and sculpted ground plane tell visitors the story of the scarcity, the power, and the harvest of water in the desert. Shaded exteriors and daylit interiors shelter and harness the desert sun.

Additional information

Project attributes

Year of design completion: 2016

Year of substantial project completion: 2019

Gross conditioned floor area: 35,468 sq ft

Number of stories: 1

Project climate zone: ASHRAE 3

Annual hours of operation: 8,760

Site area: 1,236,445 sq ft

Project site context/setting: Urban

Cost of construction, excluding furnishing: $68,000,000

Number of residents, occupants, visitors: 999,456 estimated annual

Project team

Civil Engineer:  JQ Infrastructure, LLC

Commissioning:  Commissioning Concepts

Construction Management:  Studio Collaboration

Cost Consultant:  Project Cost Resources

Fire Protection Engineers:  Jensen Hughes

General Contracting:  Hensel Phelps Construction

Landscape Architect:  MRWM Landscape Architects

MEP Engineer:  IMEG Corp

Security Consultant:  BLW/IMEG Corp

Structural Engineer:  Walter P Moore


Robert Berkebile, FAIA, BNIM Architects

Roy Decker, FAIA, Duvall Decker Architects

William Horgan, Assoc. AIA, Grimshaw

Vivian Loftness, FAIA, Carnegie Mellon University

Andrea Love, AIA, Payette

Image credits

Key Image_Columbus LPOE

Robert Reck

Measure 5 Economy_Columbus LPOE

Robert Reck

Measure 8 Resources 1_Columbus LPOE

Robert Reck

Measure 6 Energy_Columbus LPOE

Robert Reck

Measure 10 Discovery_Columbus LPOE

Robert Reck