Architects Meet Security Halfway
What Should They Do to Go All the Way?
The normal process for building or inhabited space design goes something like this: the client goes to the architect and describes his/her vision. The architect interprets that vision using their creative juices. That’s a good thing! Once the client approves the vision then project is handed over to an engineering firm to “build the guts”. Once the infrastructure is done and the project is finalized. The client accepts the project. At that point, it’s up to the client to coordinate the security features of the designed environment.
Sometimes, this process works. But more often than not, it doesn’t for a very simple reason. Everyone sees the project differently. The first questions the architect asks the client is how many people, what type of space (open/shared/closed offices, how many floors, etc.? During that conversation there should be questions asked that regard the Design Basis Threat; i.e, what types of threats are we trying to protect against? This particularly the case when it comes to man-made threats; such as, active shooter, hostile vehicle, insider threats. Natural threats to buildings and people are usually governed by ordinances or codes; fire, earthquake, high winds, etc. Man-made threats on the other hand are not usually governed by ordinance.
That said, when understanding man-made threats it is important to identify several keys elements of the threat:
1) Types of aggressors threats (covert or overt, group or individual, organized or not)
2) Aggressor motivations or objectives (inflict injury or death, damage or destroy property, steal equipment or materials, and create adverse publicity)
3) Aggressor tactics (both the modus operandi and the tools needed to be successful)
Unfortunately, these elements are usually left up to the security consultant towards the end of the project. If they were considered during the initial 15% phase or 35% phase of the project, it could easily accommodate countermeasures that mitigate these identified threats purely by designing the space to do just that while still maintaining functionality and aesthetics.
The Department of Defense, Department of State and Veteran’s Administration mandate that a security representative be part of the design team from the very beginning. The civilian world should follow suit, instead of the current halfway method.
Other trends in the built environment are discussed here:
Security Industry Association Technology Insight, Spring edition
Security Industry Association Technology Insight, Fall edition