A bipartisan bill to improve school safety reached the floor of the U.S. Senate this week. Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Doug Jones (D-AL) introduced the proposed legislation known as The School Safety Clearinghouse Act on Monday, an aisle-crossing effort that would help state and local officials make schools safer through smarter design. “Children deserve to go to school and learn in a safe environment,” said Senator Jones in a statement. “School leaders should always have the resources they need in order to protect our children and their teachers.” The School Safety Clearinghouse Act would establish a federally-funded national database full of information on the best design practices for enhancing security and safety in schools across the country. Managed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the clearinghouse would include recommendations from architects, engineers, building security experts, first responders, and mental health advocates. It would not, however, advocate or advertise for specific technologies or tools for schools to use. The program is the follow-up to the STOP School Violence Act which gave school districts access to funding for safety-enhancement projects. The School Safety Clearinghouse Act provides information to those districts so stakeholders can make informed design decisions using that money. The American Institute of Architects released a statement confirming its commitment to working with Democrats and Republicans, as well as DHS, on the build-out of the clearinghouse—an idea first brought forward by the organization to the federal government when AIA members testified in front of the Federal Commission on School Safety last August. The AIA’s support is the latest move in its growing effort to address school safety and gun violence. In 2018 and 2019 alone there were over a total of 40 school shootings that resulted in injuries or death, according to Education Week. “More than 20 years after the attack on Columbine High School, our schools deserve to be safer. As architects, we know how to help,” said AIA EVP and CEOOffice Robert Ivy in a press release. “Design serves as a critical element in making our airports, stadiums, and office buildings safer following September 11. Senators Purdue and Jones should be commended for introducing new legislation that will give education officials the vetted information they are desperately seeking to create and secure schools for America’s children and teachers.”
Posts tagged with "Security Design":
This year, on average, there has been one school shooting per week, according to CNN. Enduring, long-term measures to prevent attacks and safeguard schools require legislation and other policy changes that may be out of designers' reach. In the meantime, there are design measures that help make educational spaces safer, namely by preventing entry. Take a look at the following windows and doors designed and tested to protect spaces of learning. Attack Resistant Door Solutions Assa Abloy and School Guard Glass Hardware manufacturer Assa Abloy and safety glass manufacturer School Guard Glass partnered to design an attack-resistant door for schools. When paired together, the Ceco Door with SG5 attack-resistant glazing survives the most brutal blows and even gunshots (see the video above). Stronger and longer-lasting than a security film, the system is easy and affordable to retrofit to pre-existing openings for increased security. CHILDGARD security glazing Global Security Glazing Many schools across the country are not new buildings. Their windows are often tempered glass, which shatters immediately upon impact. CHILDGARD glazing is laminated security glass designed to help both new and pre-existing structures endure the hardest blows. It is a cost-effective alternative to bulletproof glass and easier to install than safety films, which must be anchored to frames. Quick Action Lockdown SSI Guardian In emergencies, seconds matter. This deadbolt classroom door instantly locks when the red button is pressed. When it is safe again or accidentally employed, the door automatically unlocks when the interior handle is turned. NIGHTLOCK LOCKDOWN 1 Nightlock Door Security Devices Sliding into place, this red metal security bracket attaches the door to the floor. There, the lock remains out of reach from the glass windows typically found in conventional classroom doors. The barricade system works with both inward and outward swing doors that are wood or metal. Security Window Film & Attachment System 3M Protect windows with this film that has the wherewithal to withstand an intruder for up to two minutes. If the glass is broken, the system that is anchored to the glass frame will stay attached to the film and protect the glass from shattering. Sponsored Product: Accurate Lock 9100SEC High Security Mortise Lock Withstands 300 times more abuse than the Standard Grade 1 Requirement. Aesthetics no longer need to be compromised to achieve the highest level of security—compatible with a variety of commercial, residential, or specialty trim.
With the debate around gun control raging after the February 14th shooting in Parkland, Florida, President Trump and the National Rifle Association (NRA) have been banging on alternative solutions to prevent mass shootings in schools, from arming teachers to hardening the schools themselves. But if the NRA had their way, what would the school of the future look like? Judging from the design guidelines that came out of their 2013 National School Shield Task Force report, they’d likely resemble prisons. The 2013 report was commissioned by the NRA in response to the Sandy Hook shooting at the end of 2012, and apart from advocating for school safety plans, the task force’s findings at times come closer to recommendations for bunkers. Ironically, Sandy Hook School reopened in 2016 with a focus on "passive security" and the healing serenity of nature, presenting a diametrically different vision of school design. Playgrounds and the rest of the school would need to be surrounded by a perimeter fence with select entrance points, and to ensure that potential shooters couldn’t cut through it, all vegetation would need to be stripped from the area. Trees and shrubs provide “hiding places for people, weapons, and explosive devices, blocking lighting, inadvertently providing routes of unauthorized access,” though the report notes that trees aren’t useless; they can “provide a level of blast shielding” in the case of an explosive threat. Being able to view the planted landscape from the inside isn’t much of a concern, as the report recommends shrinking, removing, or barring over vulnerable windows to prevent attackers from breaching them. Ideally, schools would retrofit their windows with bulletproof glass and retain the ability to surveil the surrounding area, but with ballistic glass costing around $100 per square foot, it seems more likely that they’d just do away with them altogether. Parking lots would be heavily rejiggered, with a focus on breaking up the large swaths of asphalt into heavily surveilled parking “islands.” While it might be convenient for students and teachers to park near the school, the NRA notes “vehicles can provide potential attackers with a means of concealing and transporting weapons, can be used as a tool in overpowering physical security infrastructure, and can even serve as weapons in and of themselves.” Entrance doors made from bulletproof glass at the reception area for trapping attackers, rigging the building with security cameras and reconfiguring school floor plans to resemble a panopticon are all on the list, and seem more like recommendations for designing a military base than anything else. The NRA suggests funding these upgrades through federal grants, but with schools across the country unable to afford heat in the winter, and teachers striking for higher wages, it seems unlikely that this would happen. In that case, the report recommends students and teachers “hide and hope” if there’s a shooting. It remains to be seen whether the 150 schools that an NRA spokesperson said accepted help from the organization to fortify their schools are any safer. One guess is, probably not.
AN has partnered with El Paso, Texas–based AGENCY to bring readers Border Dispatches, “an on-the-ground perspective from the United States-Mexico border.” Each month, the series explores a critical site or person shaping the mutable binational territory between the two neighboring countries. While architects commonly use mock-ups of custom elements, construction details, and assemblies to gain confidence over the future prospects of experimental endeavors, the national security complex amplifies this logic at a much larger scale: building entire mock infrastructures and city-scale installations to test and refine its operations, procedures, and footprint. Among the many replicas of critical infrastructure populating a growing number of law enforcement training sites in the United States, the port of entry (POE) is an increasingly common typology, used for training U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and related forces in the duties of facilitating and managing the various flows of people, vehicles, and goods which enter and leave the country. In the annals of security training, the port is an archetypal and enduring site, a frontline where the oft-competing interests of international commerce and national security collide. Since the establishment of the U.S. Customs Service School of Instruction at the Port of New York in 1935, ports have been a fertile testing ground for young customs officers and border agents to learn their crafts in situ, embedded amid the swirling complexities of life at the edge of sovereign territory. Interstate boundaries belie similar dynamics, with port-of-entry training a common feature of state patrol academies as well. Over the years, security officials have conducted tests to improve efficiency at mock ports of entry. In a multinational security experiment hosted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2004, participants from 18 countries worked through a debugging session for the use of e-Passports, document readers, and facial recognition devices in a makeshift simulated port in Morgantown, West Virginia. Fitting the artificially smooth, fictionalized setting, each participant held simulated travel documents from the nation of “Utopia.” Recently, this pre-collection and efficiency strategy has broadened its scope at operational ports to include the capture of Bluetooth wireless signals from travelers’ portable electronics, which the CBP gathers in order to—per official statements— issue wait-time updates to would-be travelers. The recent Laredo POE Mobile Query Pilot program distributed clearance operations to arriving busloads of simulated travelers, using “smartphones paired with a peripheral to perform document reading and biometrics capture.” With current projections focusing on further streamlining operations and securing territory “between ports of entry,” this extension of port security space continues to spread. Meanwhile, the security objectives of the port site itself have diversified and intensified, with a growing host of initiatives and technologies coming together under one roof. In the first week of September 2001, reflecting a growing dissatisfaction with what was seen as a fragmented operational environment at the nation’s ports, the U.S. Congress began requesting funding to build a port of entry training facility at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) site in Glynco, Georgia. In the following week, the attacks of 9/11 put all of the nation’s ports of entry at an elevated Level 1 alert. Shortly after, border security efforts were consolidated under the newly formed CBP. Officers at ports would be assigned new, broader security roles. The ports and their simulations would need to adapt. FLETC partnered with CBP to construct the mock port, integrating new security directives while building on a history of port simulation on site. As early as 1998, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was using mock stiles at the FLETC site to test systems for tracking foreign-visitor travel through ports of entry. Construction was completed in 2003. The 22,600-square-foot facility boasted “state-of-the-art computer systems” and “primary and secondary inspection points for pedestrian and vehicular traffic,” complete with license plate readers and radiation monitors to acquaint trainees with the layered logistics of port screenings. Since beginning operations, trainees have used the simulated environment for a wide range of practical exercises, conducting mock vehicle searches, training canine units for human detection, and simulating treasury enforcement operations with the use of role players and computer tracking. In 2007, it was common practice for trainees to enter the FLETC port simulation environment after initial training at their assigned real-world POE. In a kind of mirrored urbanism, their environmental awareness would be augmented and accelerated at the mock port, seen as a kind of interchangeable extension of and stand-in for any of the over 300 real-world sites, only for the trainees to return to their home posts for duty. The mock port has been somewhat of a calling card for FLETC and a focus around which other simulated developments continue to aggregate at the center. A 200-acre counterterrorism training environment including “rural and urban neighborhoods, buildings, and roadways” sprawls nearby. A former dormitory was converted to resemble a federal building for training. An intermodal site was built in the complex, where students train for emergencies interfacing with other forms of vulnerable infrastructure; buses, trains, aircraft, and subway systems dot the site. With an increase in demand for CBP port agents, a planning proposal in 2015 included increased training capacity at the mock port site, expanding “simulation areas and laboratory and practical exercise areas” for trainees. While the FLETC port site specializes in the required training for CBP port agents and other federal agencies, other simulated port environments expand the breadth of security training offerings, along with the types of sites and constituencies they engage. The HAMMER Federal Training Center in Richland, Washington, reportedly designed by the U.S. State Department, hosts a 1,000-square-foot mock port of entry, decked out with a “vehicle inspection pad, radiation portal monitors, and sealand cargo containers.” Training exercises here focus on law enforcement searches of containers for possible threats or smuggled material. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory uses “a series of mock port-of-entry configurations” to conduct mock-inspection exercises, anticipating and resolving emerging threats. PNNL works in concert with the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office to conduct studies in how to improve radiation-detection technologies and procedures to eliminate false positives and improve detection response. At times, it seems, the simulated environment cannot match the fidelity of its real-world counterpart, and training takes over operational port sites. Multiple agencies recently converged at the Ysleta POE, in El Paso, Texas, for hazardous material (HAZMAT) training simulation. Trainees responded to a mock battery-acid contamination scenario, in which three role-playing victims were affected by defective forklift batteries in transit on an 18-wheeler. CBP partnered with the DHS’s Office of Science and Technology to construct a mock air POE to test prototypes for biometric exiting strategies at airports in 2014. The experiments were later conducted in real-world airports. The Nogales Port of Entry has hosted a number of mock disasters and counterterrorism drills, including at least one role-playing suicide bomber. Since 2014, the CBP has been authorized to partner with private-sector interests to construct and improve POEs. The federal agency is allowed now to accept donated real estate to construct or expand its operations at ports, in a bid to expedite the retooling of this critical security infrastructure. The architectural and operational experiments conducted in the nation’s parallel network of simulated port urbanisms prevision this next generation of border stations. We imagine these new sites will be a different kind of test-bed—where real estate speculation and commercialization of the port as commodity will create a new layer of managerial complexity at our nation’s borders.
Today, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) announced that Rogers Marvel Architects (RMA) has won a design competition to revamp President's Park in Washington, DC. The New York-based architects bested a distinguished list of landscape designers, including Hood Design Studio of Oakland California, Michael Van Valkenburgh of Brooklyn, and Reed Hildebrand Associates and SASAKI, both of Watertown, Massachusetts. After September 11th, 2001, security design in major public spaces took on a new significance, and President's Park South—a large ellipse forming a public extension of the White House's front lawn—this meant concrete jersey barriers and fences along E Street. Soon, though, the park could become one of the most pedestrian-friendly—and secure—in the capital, thanks to RMA's subtle combination of landscape architecture and security design. RMA is no stranger to blending security design seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. In New York, they created a secure streetscape for Battery Park City near the World Financial Center, complete with anti-ram walls, public amenities, and landscaping. Nearby, they designed a secure streetscape along Wall and Broad streets guarding the New York Stock Exchange, where sculptural bollards and a mechanical turntable flush with the street both create a distinct pedestrian environment and permit service vehicle access. Officials at the NCPC said today that a design competition was held to garner ideas about making a world-class public park, one where security is key but does not dominate the space. NCPC chairman L. Preston Bryant, Jr. praised RMA's design as a bold statement about security and landscape design that offers a model for keeping our public spaces open and inviting. At the heart of RMA's Washington D.C. design is the strategic layering of security perimeters, which form a flexible boundary accommodating a variety of security scenarios. To accomplish this, the architects raised the central ellipse and placed an anti-ram wall that doubles as a bench around its perimeter; the bench seating faces the ellipse and helps define the iconic space. According to RMA, this elevational tilting formally "presents" the ellipse lawn to the White House while also screening nearby parking spaces from the view of park goers. Punctuating the new perimeter wall are distinct pedestrian entrances with sculptured bollards to help guide pedestrian flow. This new boundary allows for the pedestrianization of E Street facing the White House. RMA vastly expanded the public space forming a large plaza—the E Street Terrace—flanked by leafy groves containing concession and maintenance structures. "The Ellipse is subtly reinvented to address recreation, public promenading, environmental responsibility, and security. We envision a President’s Park South that will physically and conceptually connect the President and the people," said Robert M. Rogers, principal at Rogers Marvel Architects, in a statement. "Around the formal ellipse, RMA calls for a less formal rain garden with natural vegetation designed to handle rainwater runoff from a perimeter parking lot." Officials at the NCPC said at today's announcement that elements of all five short-listed proposals could be incorporated into the final plan. Next, the National Parks Service and the United States Secret Service will review RMA's design before it heads to federal, local, and public review.