The rehabilitation of the 1933 Spanish Colonial U.S. Custom House at the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry successfully incorporates the restoration of the historic exterior with a contemporary addition to allow the Custom House to continue performing a vital role at the busiest land border crossing in the U.S. The Custom House renovation is noteworthy for not only saving a modest building in the face of a mammoth expansion project, but for also seamlessly adding a new addition and modern port functions to a significant historic structure.
In the LEED Platinum rehabilitation, a new second story addition was added to the north wing which included a monumental sliding wall. Original windows and doors were restored, as were the terra cotta window sills, wood shutters, and other decorative elements. The Custom House was repainted in its original 1933 color scheme with rich yellow walls and sage green trim complementing the original Spanish Colonial tiles. The character-defining cupola was reconstructed and accented with original cobalt blue highlights. In addition to aesthetic restorations, there were functional improvements such as a full seismic retrofit of the masonry building, all new mechanical, electrical and plumbing for sustainable design, and where needed, bullet resistant improvements for security needs.
The Custom House represents a tangible, visible link to the past. Constructed during a time when borders were more open, it now resides in an area of extremely high security. In its location along the northbound pedestrian entry, it is important as an attractive, pedestrian-scaled building in the midst of a massive border station complex. Today, up to 150,000 people pass by or through the Custom House each day on their way to and from work, school, shopping and visiting.