Immigration and Customs Enforcement Offices
San Juan, Puerto Rico
The 20,000 s.f. 3-story “Antilles Building” is located in the Puerta de Tierra district of San Juan, Puerto Rico, not far from Old San Juan. Constructed in the 1930’s to provide offices for the Army Corps of Engineers, the building enjoys its current designation and protection as a local historical Art Deco landmark. However, the building had fallen on hard times, incurring significant physical damage and subsequent mold damage in the aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Maria. All of the building’s systems were in a substandard state even prior to the hurricane, and with only a single means of egress stairway and no sprinkler system, presented a severe case of deficiency in light of current codes. This also included the lack of an elevator. The new work set out to correct all of these conditions and provide a new home for the Federal offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
After close review and acceptance of the proposed exterior aesthetics by the State Historic Preservation Office, the new design adds the requisite egress stairs on either wing of the building, plus a new elevator. Beyond totally replacing the aging MEP interior infrastructure and all of those associated challenges, the project shouldered the added challenges of replacing the fundamentals of the incoming electrical and water services, and creating the new fire suppression service from scratch. This included dealing with a lack of pressure and capacity within the existing municipal water service. The challenges mounted even further as the new egress stair towers had to be built on newly driven piles due to substandard soils in the area. Finally, the various new interior areas had their own unique and complex programmatic requirements, ranging from high security areas to specialized technical areas requiring gaseous fire suppression. For the complex project that this was, the results have been a remarkable transformation, enthusiastically received by the client group as particularly well done and well executed.