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Old April 19, 2019, 12:50 PM   #66
Aguila Blanca
Join Date: September 25, 2008
Location: CONUS
Posts: 15,162
Originally Posted by TailGator
AB, how much training does an architect have in security issues? Is it a routine part of their schooling? And thus is it something that a licensed architect should reasonably be expected to be cognizant of in their designs for facilities such as schools?
I graduated from architecture school 47 years ago. Back then, the curriculum didn't even mention security, and I doubt that it does today. It also wasn't addressed in the licensing exam, and I doubt that it is today.

That said, just as a doctor is expected to develop expertise beyond his M.D. degree to engage in whatever specialty he/she chooses, an architect is also expected to know about factors affecting his/her projects. The specific knowledge required for designing schools is different from that required for hospitals, or prisons, or factories, or research laboratories.

That's why most clients hire larger firms for all but very small projects. When a school board hires "an architect" to design a school, they aren't really hiring "an" architect. They're hiring a firm. I've worked for two firms that do a lot of schools. There were about 50 people in each firm, with several licensed architects in each firm who pretty much specialized in just schools. That's a small firm by national standards. For comparison, Gensler has (I think) over 6,000 employees, in multiple offices around the country. I currently work for a mid-size A/E (architecture/engineering) firm that has about 500 employees spread over five regional offices.

But, even then, there's the question of priorities. Most architecture schools stress design as THE item of paramount importance. In the example I cited of the glass sidelights next to the classroom doors, even after it was pointed out that the sidelights created a security problem the lead architect for the project wanted to keep it because he liked it. He said some clap-trap about creating a "sense of openness and transparency" in the classrooms.

Nonsense. This is the same high school I attended. The classrooms all had windows, and the new classrooms have windows. The classrooms in the old wings of the school, when I was there, didn't have glass sidelights, and nobody cared. Most of the teachers left the door to the corridor open anyway, which would have (a) blocked the sidelight, and (b) left a larger opening than the glass anyway.

Fast forward, and I have attended adult ed classes in those new classrooms with the glass sidelights. I can speak with certainty only for myself, but I think I'm safe in saying that most (if not all) the students in my adult ed classes weren't aware of the sidelights and didn't spend any time looking out through them into the corridor. In other words, they created a security vulnerability while providing no actual, quantifiable benefit. They just satisfied the designer's preconception of what he thought was a great idea. And, unfortunately, the school board was made up of people who weren't really committed to security, they were only committed to saying they were committed to security. None of the members bothered to educate themselves on the topic, they completely delegated it to the architects. In a sane world, one might hope that "But I like it" would not be sufficient reason for building a security vulnerability into a new school wing, but we don't live in a sane world.

In the immediate aftermath of sandy Hook, the school board in the town next to mine prodly announced that they were going to upgrade security at their two grammar schools. But (for security reasons, of course) they wouldn't say what the upgrades consisted of. I had known the then-building inspector in that town for many years (he has since retired), so I asked him. The "upgrades" they installed were exactly the same "security" features that had just been installed at Sandy Hook, and which had (obviously) completely failed to provide any security against a lone shooter.

This is why a valid security analysis can't be done by a "team" that's made up exclusively of people from one specialty. That just institutionalizes tunnel vision.
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