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The Challenges of Building at the Border

Positioned just south of the Texas border, Nuevo Laredo needed a secure and modern platform for diplomacy. Completed in 2018, the New Consulate Compound (NCC) consists of a Chancery office building, a Marine security guard residence, a support annex and utility building, and facilities for the Consulate community. The Nuevo Laredo NCC now provides world-class facilities for diplomatic affairs including the processing of more than 100,000 visa applications per year.

At its peak, the construction project team included 500 local nationals and 52 American expatriates. The acquisition of labor was a challenge throughout the entire project, due to its proximity to the U.S. The project was only 5,000 feet from U.S. soil, and most of the skilled workers residing in Nuevo Laredo had already found employment stateside. Our teams implemented a large-scale recruiting campaign to locate young individuals interested in construction. A lot of time was spent educating and motivating the untrained workforce.

The Nuevo Laredo NCC was the first BLHI project where U.S. expatriates worked and resided in different countries. For security reasons, the management team lived in Texas and crossed the border twice daily traveling to and from the project site. This meant that each day the team had to pass through one of the nation’s busiest land ports. Last year, goods valued at over $200 billion (USD) were imported across the border, and 12,000 trucks crossed it every day. Average wait times for our team ranged from five minutes to three hours and could take up to 16 hours around big holidays. Transporting the team on time and safely across the border was a daily obstacle.

Despite the challenges, BL Harbert International delivered a world-class diplomatic facility that continues to represent the best of American government, enterprise, and culture.

On-site, steel beams replaced typical concrete structures to create elongated roofs at monumental areas. The building’s roofs and canopies provide an abundance of shade, while showcasing modern desert design. The gallery features a striking, two-story, window-wall storefront. Although unique, the design meets all standards for forced entry ballistic resistant (FEBR), structural and blast. Through creative design and engineering, the end users benefit from natural sunlight, allowing them to conduct diplomacy in a beautiful and secure environment.

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