Security and building design: A decade of change and adaptation

in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, involved the truck bombing of a U.S. military installation. The 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya underscored the need to provide secure facilities for Foreign Service personnel serving overseas.

Within the U.S., the first World Trade Center bombing occurred in 1993, in an underground parking garage. The Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building happened in 1995; both incidents involved vehicle bombings of iconic buildings.

After these events, those responsible for security within government facilities where people live and work became more acutely aware of increased security needs. But commercial building owners weren’t necessarily as concerned. It wasn’t quite on their radar screen. The events of 9/11 changed this approach, as many private building owners started to realize their people, buildings, and assets could be at risk. The threat of terrorism put a different spin on what could happen to public and private facilities, in the U.S., and worldwide.

Terrorism around the world, as we have seen in different places, from London, the Middle East, to Mumbai, has made many governments sensitive to protecting their populations, infrastructure, and communities. Security is not an isolated issue. Every free, democratic country in the world is concerned about terrorism, and how to protect their assets. This can typically include critical infrastructure, such as roads and energy sources, and high-rise buildings, especially if there are global companies as tenants or owners. Governments and private companies must protect their people and property. It’s a global issue.

So, back to the initial question: People want this kind of information now because many are struggling to figure out, “What do we do? We can call upon law enforcement, gather intelligence, and deploy operational and military personnel, but how do we protect our buildings?” The challenge is that we don’t want to build fortress cities; we don’t want to build bunkers. We want beautiful buildings and vibrant cities that will attract tourism and send the message that it is safe to visit, live and work in these urban centers and suburban places. But we also now must have a level of protection that signals, “We aren’t going to make it easy for terrorism and crime to disrupt our way of life.”

Goodchild: You are in the beginning stages of developing a second edition of the book. What has changed with security and the design industry since the book was first published in