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Project Background:

As the spring of 1988 unfolded and another long northern winter ended, it was decided that the old International Falls border station was to be replaced as soon as possible.


The site for the new building was long, narrow, irregular, and lacerated by no less than eleven utility easements not yielding a single area large enough to build on, but rather several disconnected, smaller fragments. The concept of the new building as a bridge emerged.


Architectural Resources, Inc., strongly believed that the complex should visually set itself and its function apart from the vast industrial district surrounding it and that it should be a welcoming, colorful relief from its environment and an obvious point of transition and vivid visual symbol of the United States to all crossing the border.


Construction was completed in the spring of 1994. A variety of materials and colors referencing the United States Flag crisply define the complex facades and intersecting volumes, and buttress the bridge concept. Blue resin-coated masonry interspersed regularly with white cover much of the abutments, while red and white bands along the long elevations of the office bridge complete the reference to the flag.


The interior continues the theme generated on the exterior with red, white, and blue ceramic tile at the two-story public space.


The main inspection canopy waves over and shelters all who enter. Its most important function is to evoke a sense of pride and patriotism in the United States.


The project has won multiple awards, including the 1994 General Services Administration Design Award, the 1994 AIA Minnesota Honor Award, and the 1995 National Endowment for the Arts Professional Design Award. The project was also included in the 1997 Chicago Athendeum Museum of Architecture & Design exhibit "Democratic Design: A New Era In Federal Architecture."

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