You are here

Sault Ste. Marie U.S. Port of Entry (Border Station)

-A A +A
Border Station
2005, Ross Barney + Jankowski Inc. of Chicago. International Highway Bridge Plaza
  • (Photograph by Roger Funk)

Situated on the plaza of the International Highway Bridge above the Sault Locks on the St. Mary's River that connects Lakes Superior and Huron, the U.S. Port of Entry was designed to increase security and facilitate commerce. It functions to process travelers and cargo arriving in the United States by way of the bridge that carries I-75 over the river. The complex is nine times the size of the former border station and cost $12.6 million.

The illuminated canopy that vehicles pass through is visible to travelers from afar. Canopies with suspended lights sweep out over traffic lanes to cover inspection booths. Three booths are on three upper-level traffic lanes; a lower level carries truck traffic. Here the wall is retained with gabion basket cages holding baskets of local stones. All inspection areas have radiation portal monitors. These canopied inspection lanes are connected with a one-story structure containing a lobby and administrative desk, and, in turn, with the main three-story building.

The copper-clad and glass-walled narrow and modern main building is nestled into the side of a hill with sedum covering the roof. The building's third story holds a lobby and administrative work areas; the second accommodates secure quarters, detention cells, border-hardening cameras, a four-point shooting range for use with friable (nontoxic) ammunition, and a training facility, fitness center, locker rooms, and showers; and the first story contains the mechanical systems and parking. The centerpiece of the lobby is the seventy-five-foot-long sculpture, Independence Crossing, that doubles as the primary inspection desk for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. Wooden ribs resembling the hull of a ship support the counter. The wood was salvaged from the Independence, a nineteenth-century steamship that sank in 1853 a mile from the Border Station. Terrence Karpowicz, a Chicago sculptor, produced the sculpture as part of the General Services Administration's (GSA) Art in Architecture program.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the Department of Homeland Security together with the Immigration, Justice, and Agriculture departments operate the border station, but the GSA owns the structure. The area of responsibility for this station runs from Traverse City and Alpena north to the Canadian border and from Sault Ste. Marie west to the Michigan border with Wisconsin.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.