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Design issues impacted by security questions.

For the past several years the commercial interior and architectural design has been dominated by a few overall trends. Companies have been primarily concerned with better utilization of space (More workstations, less offices), technology (Is the building wired, does it have enough power and cooling), and employee satisfaction (Making the work place attractive and inviting in a competitive job market). Today we are living in a new era with the ramifications of the Sept. 11 tragedy having had a dramatic impact on the planning and design of commercial real estate.

Security has now become the most important issue on everyoneis mind. From a company's ability to protect its employees and its products, to recruiting and retention, companies are now placing security as a bigger concern than aesthetics. In this new era, security and confidence have replaced glitz and pretentiousness. Companies recognize that today is new realities mean that protecting their employees, products and assets are the new order of the day.

How does a company address security issues? It begins at the front door. A client of ours, a Fortune 100 food manufacturer is constructing security fencing around its campus and controlling access by constructing guardhouses with gated controls at entrance driveways. A high-rise office building landlord is implementing 24-hours security guards at building entrances and installing card access turnstiles at all ground level entry points and elevator lobbies. Security guards are not only checking identification of visitors but also inspecting their briefcases. Some clients are considering installing metal detectors and airport-like security checkpoints at building entries.

Another area of security concern is in the mailrooms. A pharmaceutical client of ours is renovating its mailroom and installing X-Ray equipment to examine suspicious packages. Hand sinks are being installed to make it more convenient for mail openers to wash their hands in case they open a suspicious package. Yes, latex gloves are being issued as standard equipment and packages are being kept in a secure area until they have been inspected.

Firms concerned about maintaining data processing capabilities, which are often located in buildings with redundant utility and communication feeds, have provided generators to run their computers in the event of a power failure. In some rare occasions sites mirroring the primary data center were constructed. Now the process of mirroring data centers is becoming the norm. One telecommunication client minors its corporate data center and switching stations in multiple locations in several states.

Many clients are installing or expanding existing security alarm and surveillance systems. Several office building landlords are installing close circuit television monitoring at all building entrances and public ways. Card access systems and electronically controlled locking devises are being installed at entry doors. These security systems are being tied into Building Management Systems (BMS) which traditionally have been used to control HYAC and fire protection systems. These BMS are now being used to control security and coordinate the locking and unlocking of doors and gates with the operation of lighting and other building systems.

When planning the implementation of security projects, it is recommended that one consult not only a security specialist, but an architect as well. Projects of this nature cannot always be implemented immediately, for they require building permits and in the case of the guardhouses noted above, site plan approvals. Many times securing a facility means not only locking people out, but in as well. This and many other security measures are contradictory to building codes, which are primarily designed to protect life safety and property in the event of a fire. Only an architect has the experience and legal power to design renovations to buildings and can ensure that building codes are adhered to.

The new realities of the times we are living in are causing all of us to re-think how we approach our lives and businesses. By addressing these concerns and issues directly, we can ensure a safer, more productive workplace for us all.
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Author:Jarmel, Matthew B.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Feb 27, 2002
Words:653
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