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A compromising situation.

BARBED WIRE AT THE MAIN ENtrance to a Fortune 500 corporate headquarters would not be appropriate, nor would a camera in a large vandal-resistant housing be pleasing to the eye. Extreme cases? Yes, but plenty of exposed security equipment installed in the corporate environment looks like it is left over from World War II.

Why does this happen? How can it be remedied? And what has been done already to meld the form and function of technical security devices to that of architecture and interior design?

Let's start by looking at the design process for a new or refurbished building. The architect for a large project is typically the prime design contractor. Although not the master builder of old, the architect has ultimate responsibility for all the project's design work.

In today's world of high tech, the architect usually subcontracts some of the design tasks--building utilities and environmental systems, elevators and escalators, voice and data telecommunications, food services, audiovisual and teleconferencing systems, door hardware, fire protection and detection, and security systems. As the list grows, so do the design scheduling and coordination problems. Unfortunately, in the great scheme of construction projects, security tends to find itself toward the bottom of the list or, worse still, an afterthought.

The results are twofold: The architectural design is a fait accompli, leaving no room or time for design integration between exposed security equipment and the exterior or interior form of the building. And, since the architect is then forced to accept the vendor's off-the-shelf, available equipment, manufacturers are not pressured into dragging antiquated designs into the 20th century.

In addition, manufacturers faced with pricing pressures and low per-company volume--caused by a surfeit of suppliers--do not offer a range of designs or colors. The solution rests with the building owner's or tenant's security manager and the security consultant or engineer. They must become involved early in the project. Architects must be convinced of the importance of security and its design integration into new projects.

Give-and-take needs to occur on both sides. The architect does not want anything installed that will interrupt or mar the aesthetic quality of the design, but a security practitioner wants to use visible hardware to heighten awareness and act as a deterrent.

If the architect can understand the benefits, limitations, and function of security technology and if the security professional can be given insight into the form of the architect's vision, then both parties will reach the best compromise.

The current picture is not as bleak as may have been painted. Some architects do consider security, and some equipment manufacturers are designing products that are visually exciting. Let us look at some of the security elements that require coordination among the security designer, the architect, and other design trades.

Exterior security. A fence should not be so easy to climb as to allow the neighborhood kids free access and, thus, increase the owner's liability. Whatever the design--be it chain link, vinyl coated, or wrought iron--it should be carefully reviewed for footholds and handholds.

Where perimeter intrusion detection is required, the landscape architect should be aware of the need for a zone clear of trees, bushes, and other plantings to allow the detection system and CCTV cameras to work at optimum level.

How will a camera look on a pole or roof parapet? Cameras usually view vertical surfaces. The lighting designer should make sure exterior lighting is not designed to illuminate only the ground.

Perimeter entrances. The main entrance is an important feature from an architectural viewpoint. It is used to create an upbeat image of grandeur, solidity, and welcome.

Glass doors and walls permit an early glimpse of the lobby design. But is there space on the mullion for a card reader to control access for the off-hours employee, or room for an intercom and camera to identify and validate the late-arriving visitor? Employee-only entrances are usually less formal but should not escape good architectural treatment.

Main lobby. The lobby is where the architectural designer places his or her stamp. First impressions count, and the architect will prioritize time and construction budget on this cornerstone.

The entry lobby is also an important area from a security perspective and one where the architect's concepts of openness and welcomeness are diametrically opposed to security's need for identification, validation, and control.

Where lobby traffic is busy, it is important to separate employee traffic from visitor traffic. Employees can be validated more easily by sight, photo badge, or access control systems.

Visitors need to be funnelled to the reception area for validation; they should not be allowed to wander into the inner spaces without being identified and announced. Thus the location of the reception desk relative to interior access is important. A receptionist should not have to raise his or her voice to challenge a visitor.

Positive access control that authorizes one person at a time, with no piggybacking and with minimum security staffing, has always been a problem. Full-height turnstiles will raise the hackles on even the most mild-mannered architect; low turnstiles have better acceptance, especially when given the architectural treatment to match other lobby materials.

Optical turnstiles present the least institutional approach. With no physical barrier, the turnstiles read the user's card and rely on a series of light beams to detect piggybacking. Deviations cause a local horn or chime to sound.

One group of electronics is required at the reader/start position and another group is required for the light beams approximately 3 feet away for single direction control. The design of bollards to hold the electronics and the barrier between them is open for architectural interpretation.

One obvious operational drawback to both low turnstiles and the optical system is the need to have a security officer available to respond to turnstile jumpers. If the control systems are located close to the reception desk, this may be the only overview needed.

The reception desk is often the focal point of the lobby, and its design is equally important to the architect and the security designer. Security system monitoring is best performed in a room away from the traffic, distractions, and reception duties of the front lobby. However, if the reception desk must be staffed full-time, it makes economic sense for the desk to be equipped with duplicate monitoring, control, and communication systems for off-hours security coverage.

Items to consider include equipment layout, rack-mounting rails, sufficient depth for color CRTs, paper handling for printers, and, often overlooked, space for proper airflow to keep equipment cool.

Door hardware. Door hardware is a complex field that is one of the most sensitive and important issues from a design coordination perspective. Many rules and regulations must be satisfied: building codes, fire codes (national and local), operational issues, and HVAC zoning, in addition to security control and architectural design.

Frameless glass doors do not lend themselves to lock control other than electromagnetic. Dead bolts on doors in the path of egress are frowned on since the bolt will not release if there is panic pressure on the door. A top rail is preferable and allows for the magnet of a door position switch to be installed.

If the door is transomless all the way to the ceiling, the electromagnet will need to be mounted at ceiling height. A firm support is needed on which to mount it. If a frameless glass door is paired with a frameless glass transom and a floor-mounted lock is not practical, the architect might need to revise the door design. If the door is in the path of egress, local codes should be checked for emergency release requirements that apply.

When retrofitting existing doors with electric locks or concealed magnetic switches, the frame should first be checked to see that it has not been filled with mortar.

Card readers. Card readers--available for proximity, swipe, and insert technologies--have already been mentioned for doors with framed glass returns. Proximity technology readers are the favorites for architects since they can be hidden. Capable of reading a card through gypsum board, wood paneling, marble, and even a few inches of brick, they can blend--literally and figuratively--into the woodwork.

Flush LED lights or a logo are needed to show users where to present their card. LEDs are preferable since they provide visual feedback, but some reader models now feature an audible signal to indicate status. The switchplate-style reader also blends well with most wall treatments.

Card reader-controlled door egress devices may be push button, motion sensor, or under-carpet switch mat. The latter two are preferable for hands-free operation but only if the door is at the end of or recessed from a corridor. The door should not unlock or shunt the door alarm every time someone walks past. The possibility that an intruder could activate the motion sensor or press the mat by pushing an object under the door should also be considered.

Interior cameras. The advent of charge-coupled device (CCD), or chip, technology has greatly reduced the size and mass of cameras, making them far more acceptable as part of the interior design. Adding housings can make them more prominent.

Where the security application warrants its use or where the architect is insistent, pinhole lenses are still available for concealed cameras. Many objects, such as wall clocks and sprinkler heads, are available with built-in cameras and lenses.

The items below touch on other general security topics that need to be considered.

Barriers. Depending on the required level of security, walls should be designed to reach all the way to the ceiling slab, not just to the drop ceiling. Drywall construction is not suitable for a high security room, such as a voice and data switch room or unattended computer equipment room.

Elevator cabs. Power requirements for cameras and card readers should be coordinated, as should additions to the elevator traveling cable for signal and video. Cameras located in the center of cab ceilings usually show the top of people's heads. Corner locations are better.

The cab should be examined for elaborate ceiling treatment that may present problems for camera location and mounting. Dummy cameras should not be used; they can create an enormous liability risk if a crime occurs.

Riser closets. Enough room should be provided to work on security multiplexers and power supplies. Power needs should be coordinated with the electrical design engineer. A convenient outlet for scopes and other test equipment should be included.

Stacked closets in multifloor buildings should be included in the design, the fewer horizontal "jogs" the better. Floor slab sleeves should be included for vertical cable runs since core drilling after the floor slabs are poured is expensive. If a closet must be shared, security riser cable should be run in a conduit. Lockable, tamper-alarmed enclosures should be specified for all security equipment.

Central console rooms. The console operator's performance is enhanced by the quality of his or her working environment. The mechanical design engineer should be provided with heat loads for all the central security equipment, and the engineer should be informed if this is a 24-hour, seven-day-per-week operation.

If space is available, a separate room should be designated out of the back of the console area so that equipment can be maintained without disturbing the console operator. This room should be large enough for the system's uninterrupted power supply (UPS), and any other equipment that does not need to be rack mounted in the console.

Electrical requirements, including those for convenience outlets, should be coordinated with the electrical engineer. If available, security system UPS and non-UPS power should be connected to the emergency generator circuit.

A raised floor for the console room makes wiring simpler, quicker, and neater. If not possible for the front-of-the-console area, a raised floor should be provided for the area behind the console room. Six inches is usually sufficient for this treatment.

Console operation may be an ideal occupation for individuals with certain disabilities. The console room access door should be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, and if a raised floor is specified for this area, an access ramp should be included.

Fire alarm interface. Where code requires power to be cut to security locks, the fire alarm system should be designed to provide sufficient relays. If the security system is not approved as a fire alarm system--and most are not--the fire alarm relays must be wired to directly interrupt lock power. The alarm signal cannot go through a security multiplexer.

HVAC alarms. If the HVAC system monitors critical alarms, such as computer room temperature, and security is the only function that has 24-hour operation, the mechanical engineer may want the security system to monitor these alarms during off hours.

Many areas require coordination between the security designer and the architect, as well as a few other design trades. If the security practitioner understands the architect's agenda--and vice versa--the needs of both disciplines can be incorporated in a harmonious blend of form and function. The facility, whether office or factory, will look better, work better, and provide better security. Remember: Good design costs no more than bad design.

David G. Aggleton, CPP, is group vice president of Electronic Systems Associates, a subsidiary of Syska & Hennessy, in New York City. He is a member of the ASIS Standing Committee on Architecture and Engineering and is a member of the International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC).
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:needed cooperation between security designer and architect
Author:Aggleton, David G.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Nov 1, 1992
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