What Can Architects Do To Design Safer Classrooms For Our Children? Part 4: Safety Guidelines For Schools

ILMA Classroom 11.pngPhoto Source: The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

The Following is Based on the Final Report of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission

School Site Perimeter Standards

  1. Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a crime prevention strategy that uses architectural design, landscape planning, security systems, and visual surveillance to create a potentially crime free environment by influencing human behavior and should be applied when appropriate.
  2. Fencing, landscaping, edge treatment, bollards, signage, exterior furnishings and exterior lighting may be used to establish territorial boundaries and clearly delineate areas of public, semi-public, semi-private, and private space.

Access Control

  1. School boundaries and property lines shall be clearly demarcated to control access to a school facility and shall clearly delineate areas of public, semi-public, semi-private, and private space.
  2. Where a school is a shared use facility that serves the community, internal boundaries shall be clearly defined to establish a distinct perimeter for both the school and the shared use facilities with separate and secure access points that are clearly defined. Boundaries may be defined by installing fencing, signage, edge treatment, landscaping, and ground surface treatment.
  3. The number of vehicle and pedestrian access points to school property shall be kept to a minimum and shall be clearly designated as such.
  4. Directional signage shall be installed at primary points of entry to control pedestrian and vehicular access and to clearly delineate vehicular and pedestrian traffic routes, loading/unloading zones, parking and delivery areas. Signage should be simple and have the necessary level of clarity. Signage should have reflective or lighted markings.
  5. A means shall be provided to achieve and enforce identity authentication and entry authorization at locations and areas established by school operations protocols.

Surveillance

  1. The design shall allow for the monitoring of points of entry/egress by natural and/or electronic surveillance during normal hours of operation and during special events.
  2. At minimum, electronic surveillance shall be used at the primary access points to the site for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
  3. All points of vehicular entry/egress shall be adequately illuminated to enhance visibility for purposes of surveillance.
  4. Designated pedestrian and vehicular traffic routes shall be adequately illuminated to reinforce natural and or electronic surveillance during evening hours.
  5. Locate access points in areas of high visibility that can be easily observed and monitored by staff and students in the course of their normal activities. Natural surveillance may be maximized by controlling access points that clearly demarcate boundaries and spaces.
  6. Video surveillance systems may be used around the site perimeter to provide views of points of entry/egress and as a means to securely monitor an area when natural surveillance is not available.
  7. Lighting should be sufficient to illuminate potential areas of concealment, enhance observation, and to provide for the safety of individuals moving between adjacent parking areas, streets and around the school facility.
  8. Consider the design of video surveillance systems which have the ability to be used locally (on site) by emergency responders and viewed off-site at appropriate locations.

Parking Areas and Vehicular and Pedestrian Routes

  1. At the minimum, electronic surveillance shall be used at the primary access points to the site for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
  2. Designated pedestrian and vehicular points of entry/egress and traffic routes shall be adequately illuminated to reinforce natural and or electronic surveillance.
  3. Signage shall be posted at all vehicular access points and in delivery zones, parking areas and bus loading/unloading zones with rules as to who is allowed to use parking facilities and when they are allowed to do so. Signage should be simple and have the necessary level of clarity. Signage should have reflective or lighted markings.
  4. Parking areas shall be adequately illuminated with vandal resistant lighting.
  5. Parking shall be prohibited under or within the school building.
  6. Adequate lighting shall be provided at site entry locations, roadways, parking lots, and walkways from parking to buildings.
  7. Gas service rooms, exterior meters/regulators shall be secured.
  8. External access to school facilities shall be kept to a limited number of controlled entrances. Vehicular circulation routes shall be separated and kept to a minimum of two routes per project site for purposes of separating service and delivery areas from visitors‘ entry, bus drop-off, student parking and staff parking. Circulation routes shall be separated, clearly demarcated, and easily supervised. Provide vehicle interdiction devices at building entries to preclude vehicle access into the building.
  9. A drop-off/pick-up lane shall be designated for buses only with a dedicated loading and unloading zone designed to adequately allow for natural and/or electronic surveillance and to avoid overcrowding and accidents.
  10. Design entry roads so that vehicles do not have a straight-line approach to the main building. Use speed-calming features to keep vehicles from gaining enough speed to penetrate barriers. Speed-calming features may include, but are not limited to, speed bumps, safety islands, differing pavement surfaces, landscape buffers, exterior furnishings and light fixtures.
  11. Signage text should prevent confusion over site circulation, parking, and entrance location. Unless otherwise required, signs should not identify sensitive or high risk areas. However, signs should be erected to indicate areas of restricted admittance and use of video surveillance.
  12. Parking areas should be designed in locations that promote natural surveillance. Parking should be located within view from the occupied building, while maintaining the maximum stand-off distance possible.
  13. Locate visitor parking in areas that provide the fewest security risks to school personnel. The distance at which a potentially threatening vehicle can park in relation to school grounds and buildings should be controlled.
  14. Consider illuminating areas where recreational activities and other nontraditional uses of the building occur. If video surveillance systems are installed, adequate illumination shall be designed to accommodate it.
  15. Consider blue light emergency phones with a duress alarm in all parking areas and athletic fields. If utilized, blue light emergency phones shall be clearly visible, readily accessible and adequately illuminated to accommodate electronic surveillance.
  16. Review vehicle access routes to the school and the site civil design with emergency responders to address their incident response requirements.
  17. Design walkways from all parking areas so that they can be observed from within the school by appropriate school staff.

Recreational Areas – Playgrounds, Athletic Areas, Multipurpose Fields

  1. The design shall allow for ground level, unobstructed views, for natural and/or electronic surveillance of all outdoor athletic areas, playgrounds and recreation areas at all times.
  2. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten play areas shall be separated from play areas designed for other students and physically secured.
  3. Athletic areas and multipurpose fields at elementary school buildings shall contain a physical protective barrier to control access and protect the area.
  4. Playgrounds and other student gathering areas shall be located away from public vehicle access areas, such as streets or parking lots by a minimum of fifty (50) feet unless prohibited by site constraints.
  5. Consider a physical protective barrier around athletic areas and multipurpose fields at secondary school buildings to control access and protect the area.
  6. Locate access points to recreational areas in areas of high visibility that can be easily observed and monitored by staff and students in the course of their normal activities. Natural surveillance may be maximized by controlling access points that clearly demarcate boundaries and spaces.
  7. Pre-K and K play areas should be designed so that they have visual sight-lines to school staff. Fencing should not diminish this visual connection.
  8. Review the design of these areas with emergency responders to address their incident response requirements.

Communication Systems

  1. All classrooms shall have two way communications with the administrative office.
  2. All communication systems shall be installed in compliance with state building and fire code requirements.
  3. Emergency Communication Systems (ECS) and/or alarm systems shall have redundant means to notify first responders, supporting agencies, public safety officials and others of an event to allow for effective response and incident management. Alarm systems must be compatible with the municipal systems in place. These systems may include radio, electronic, wireless or multimedia technology which provides real time information (such as audio, visual, mapping and relevant data) directly to first responders. Points of Broadcast input for these systems shall be reviewed with emergency responders.  A minimum of 2 shall be provided.
  4. Emergency Communication Systems (ECS) shall be installed and maintained in accordance with NFPA 72, 2010, or the most current fire code standard adopted by the local/state construction code authority. ECS may include but is not limited to public address (PA) systems, intercoms, loudspeakers, sirens, strobes, SMS text alert systems, and other emerging interoperable resource sharing communication platforms. The design of these systems shall be reviewed with emergency responders.
  5. All new buildings shall have approved radio coverage for first responders within the building based upon the existing coverage levels of communication systems at the exterior of the building. The system as installed must comply with all applicable sections of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Rules for Communication Systems and shall coordinate with the downlink and uplink pass band frequencies of the respective first responders. Perform a radio audibility and intelligibility test and modify system design accordingly.
  6. All in-building radio systems shall be compatible with systems used by local first responders at the time of installation.
  7. Call buttons with direct intercom communication to the central administrative office and/or security office should be installed at key public contact areas.
  8. Develop a strategy and “security team” and equip them with hand-held radios so they can be effective participants in the radio communications system.

School Building Exterior – Points of Entry/Egress and Accessibility

  1. Points of entry/egress shall be designed to allow for monitoring by natural and/or electronic surveillance during normal hours of operation and during special events.
  2. At minimum electronic surveillance shall be used at the primary points of entry.
  3. Lighting shall be sufficient to adequately illuminate potential areas of concealment and points of building entry, and, enhance natural and/or electronic surveillance, and discourage vandalism.
  4. Consider blue light emergency phones with a duress alarm along the building perimeter as needed to enhance security. If utilized, blue light emergency phones shall be clearly visible, readily accessible and adequately illuminated to accommodate electronic surveillance.
  5. Consider the use of forced entry resistance glazing materials for windows and glazed doors using laminated glass and/or polycarbonate to significantly improve forced entry delay time beyond standard glazing techniques. A five (5) minute forced entry solution should be the design standard.

Main Entrance / Administrative Offices / Lobby

  1. Main entrances shall be well lit and unobstructed to allow for natural and/or electronic surveillance at all times.
  2. The design shall allow for visitors to be guided to a single control point for entry.
  3. The main entrance assembly (glazing, frame, & door) shall be forced entry resistant to the project standard, with a forced entry time rating as informed by local law enforcement response timing.
  4. Plans shall carefully address the extent to which glazing is used in primary entry ways, areas of high risk and areas of high traffic and the degree to which glazing is installed or treated to be bullet, blast, or shatter resistant to enhance the level of security. The district‘s priorities for the use of natural surveillance, electronic surveillance, natural light and other related security measures may affect this decision and the overall level of security.
  5. Main entrance doors shall be capable of being secured from a central location, such as the central administrative office and/or the school security office.
  6. Video surveillance cameras shall be installed in such a manner to show who enters and leaves the building and shall be monitored at locations which are attended whenever the school is occupied.
  7. The design shall allow for providing visitor accessibility only after proper identification.
  8. The use of vestibules with forced entry resistant doors and glazing to the project standard should be the design standard.
  9. The central administrative offices and/or security offices should have an unobstructed view of the main entrance lobby doors and hallways. If feasible, administrative offices abutting the main entrance should be on an exterior wall with windows for natural surveillance of visitor parking, drop off areas, and exterior routes leading to the main entrance.
  10. Walls, forced entry resistant to the project standard, should be hardened in foyers and public entries. Interior and exterior vestibule doors should be offset from each other in airlock configuration.
  11. Use vestibules to increase security. The entrance vestibule shall have both interior and exterior doors that are lockable and controllable from a remote location and be designed to achieved enhanced force entry performance as identified to the project forced entry standards.
  12. When possible, the design should force visitors to pass directly through a screening area prior to entering or leaving the school. The screening area should be an entrance vestibule, the administration/reception area, a lobby check in station, an entry kiosk, or some other controlled area. This controlled entrance should serve as the primary control point between the main entrance and all other areas of the school.
  13. Control visitor access through electronic surveillance with intercom audio and remote lock release capability at the visitor entrance.
  1. Restrict visitor access during normal hours of operation to the primary entrance. If school buildings require multiple entry points, regulate those entry points with no access to people without proper identity authentication and entry authorization. Consider an electronic access control system for authorized persons if multiple entry points are utilized during normal hours of operation.
  2. Install a panic/duress alarm or call button at an administrative/security desk as a protective measure.
  3. Proximity cards, keys, key fobs, coded entries, or other devices may be used for access control of students and staff during normal hours of operation. The system may be local (residing in the door hardware) or global (building or district- wide). Prior to installing a customized door access control system refer to the local authority having jurisdiction for compliance with state building and fire code.
  4. Consider sensors that alert administrative offices when exterior doors at all primary and secondary points of entry are left open.
  5. Consider radio frequency access control devices at primary points of entry to allow rapid entry by emergency responders. Review this technology with the emergency responders which serve the school facility.
  6. Where “forced entry” required construction is required, the forced entry delay time shall be based on the ERTA, and have the forced entry designs informed/validated by a licensed architect, professional engineer or qualified security consultant.
  7. Provide closers on these doors so that they automatically return to a closed, latched, and locked position to preclude unauthorized entry.

Exterior Doors

  1. The design shall allow for the points of entry/egress to be monitored by natural and/or electronic surveillance during normal hours of operation and during special events.
  2. Lighting at these entry points shall be sufficient to illuminate potential areas of concealment, enhance natural and/or electronic surveillance, discourage and protect against vandalism.
  3. Tertiary exterior doors shall be hardened to be penetration resistant and burglar resistant.
  4. All exterior doors shall be equipped with hardware capable of implementing a full perimeter lockdown by manual or electronic means and shall be numbered per the SSIC standards.
  5. All exterior doors shall be easy to lock and allow for quick release in the event of an emergency by authorized personnel and emergency responders.
  6. All exterior doors that allow access to the interior of the school shall be numbered in sequential order in a clockwise manner starting with the main entrance. All numbers shall be visible from the street or closest point of entry/egress, contrast with its background and be retro-reflective.
  7. Doors vulnerable to unauthorized access may be monitored by adding door contacts or sensors, or may be secured through the use of other protective measures, such as delayed opening devices, or video surveillance cameras that are available for viewing from a central location, such as the central administrative office and/or security office.
  8. Specify high security keys and cylinders to prove access control.
  9. Provide closers on these doors so that they automatically return to a closed, latched, and locked position to preclude unauthorized entry.

Exterior Windows/Glazing/Films

  1. Windows may serve as a secondary means of egress in case of emergency. Any “rescue window” with a window latching device shall be capable of being operated from not more than forty-eight (48) inches above the finished floor.
  2. Each classroom having exterior windows shall have the classroom number affixed to the upper right-hand corner of the first and last window of the corresponding classroom. The numbers shall be reflective, with contrasting background and shall be readable from the ground plain at a minimum distance of fifty (50) feet.
  3. Plans shall carefully address the extent to which glazing is used in primary entry ways, areas of high risk and areas of high traffic and the degree to which glazing is installed or treated to be bullet, blast, or shatter resistant to enhance the level of security. The district‘s priorities for the use of natural surveillance, electronic surveillance, natural light and other related security measures may affect this decision and the overall level of security.
  4. Design windows, framing and anchoring systems to be shatter resistant, burglar resistant, and forced entry resistant to the project forced entry standards, especially in areas of high risk. Whenever feasible, specify force entry resistant glazing on all exterior glazing.
  5. Resistance for glazing may be built into the window or applied with a film or a suitable additional forced entry resistant “storm” window.
  6. Classroom windows should be operable to allow for evacuation in an emergency. Review with the authority having jurisdiction and fire department to balance emergency evacuation, external access, and security requirements.

School Building Interior

  1. Interior physical security measures are a valuable part of a school‘s overall physical security infrastructure. Some physical measures such as doors, locks, and windows deter, prevent or delay an intruder from freely moving throughout a school and from entering areas where students and personnel may be located. Natural and electronic surveillance can assist in locating and identifying a threat and minimizing the time it takes for first responders to neutralize a threat.
  2. The design shall provide for controlled access to classrooms and other areas in the interior that are predominantly used by students during normal hours of operation to protect against intruders.
  3. All interior room numbers shall be coordinated in a uniform room numbering system format. Numbering shall be in sequential order in a clockwise manner starting with the interior door closest to the main point of entry. Interior room number signage shall be wall mounted. Additional room number signage may be ceiling or flag mounted. Interior room number signage specifications and installation shall be in compliance with ADA standards and other applicable regulations as required.
  4. Record documentation drawings shall be kept which include floor plans with the room numbering system. These drawings shall be safeguarded but available for emergency responders. Review opportunities for emergency responders agencies to have these drawings as well.
  5. Review design opportunities to create interior safe havens with forced entry resistant walls and doors. These may be libraries, auditoriums, cafeterias, gyms or portions of school wings or blocks of classrooms.
  6. Establish separate entrance and exit patterns for areas that have concentrated high- volume use, such as cafeterias and corridors, to reduce time required for movement into and out of spaces and to reduce the opportunity for personal conflict. Separation of student traffic flow can help define orderly movement and save time, and an unauthorized user will perceive a greater risk of detection.
  7. Consider intruder doors that automatically lock when an intruder alarm or lockdown is activated to limit intruder accessibility within the building. If installed, intruder doors shall automatically release in the event of an emergency or power outage and must be equipped with a means for law enforcement and other first responders to open as necessary.

Interior Surveillance

  1. An intrusion detection system shall be installed in all school facilities.
  2. If video surveillance systems are utilized, the surveillance system shall be available for viewing from a central location, such as the central administrative office and/or the school security office, and at points of emergency responder incident management. Review these locations with emergency responders in the design phase.
  3. Consider electronic surveillance in lobbies, corridors, hallways, large assembly areas, stairwells or other areas (such as areas of refuge/safe havens) as a means to securely monitor those areas when natural surveillance is not available.
  4. The design of a school facility should allow for the designation of controlled hiding spaces. A controlled hiding place should create a safe place for students and personnel to hide and protect themselves in the event of an emergency. The controlled hiding space should be lockable and readily accessible. A controlled hiding space could be a classroom or some other designated area within the building.
  5. Design interior hallways and adjacent spaces to provide situational awareness of hallway conditions from these rooms, but also provide means to eliminate vision into these rooms as activated by room occupants.

Classroom Security

  1. All classrooms shall be equipped with a communications system to alert administrators in case of emergency. Such communication systems may consist of a push-to-talk button system, an identifiable telephone system, or other means.
  2. Door hardware, handles, locks and thresholds shall be ANSI/BHMA Grade 1.
  3. All classroom doors shall be lockable from the inside without requiring lock activation from the hallway, and door locks shall be tamper resistant.
  4. Classroom door locks shall be easy to lock and allow for quick release in the event of an emergency.
  5. Classroom doors with interior locks shall have the capability of being unlocked/ released from the interior with one motion.
  6. All door locking systems must comply with life safety and state building and fire codes to allow emergency evacuation.
  7. Provide doors between adjacent classrooms to provide means of moving classroom occupants from one classroom to the next as a means to relocate students and teachers from an impending hallway threat. Provide such doors with suitable locking hardware to preclude unauthorized tailgating.
  8. Provide closers on these doors so that they automatically return to a closed, latched, and locked position to preclude unauthorized entry.
  9. If classroom doors are equipped with a sidelight, the glazing should be penetration/forced entry resistant to the project forced entry standard.
  10. If interior windows are installed to provide lines of sight into/out of classrooms or other populated areas, certain factors should be taken into consideration relating to the size, placement and material used for those windows, including:
  11. Minimizing the size of windows or the installation of multiple interspersed smaller windows with barriers in a larger window area to deter intruder accessibility.
  12. Placing windows at a sufficient distance from the interior locking mechanism to prevent or make difficult the opening of a door or lock from outside.
  13. Concealing or obstructing window views to prevent an assailant‘s ability to ascertain the status or presence of persons inside of a classroom during lockdown.
  14. Hardening window frames and glazing to the project forced entry standards to lessen window vulnerability.

Large Assembly Areas (gym, auditorium, cafeteria, or other areas of large assembly)

  1. Points of entrance and egress shall be clearly demarcated and designed to meet the project forced entry standards.
  2. Lighting shall be sufficient to illuminate potential areas of concealment, enhance natural and/or electronic surveillance, discourage vandalism and protect against vandalism.
  3. Electronic surveillance should be used in large assembly areas and at all exit doors to securely monitor those areas when natural surveillance is not available.

Shared Space or Mixed Occupancy (library, BOE, mixed use or other community service)

  1. Shared space shall have separate, secure and controllable entrances.
  2. The design of shared space should prevent unauthorized access to the rest of the school.
  3. The design of shared space shall allow for the monitoring of points of entry/egress by natural and/or electronic surveillance during normal hours of operation.

Roofs

  1. The design shall allow for roof accessibility to authorized personnel only.
  2. Access to the roof should be internal to the building. Roof access hatches shall be locked from the inside.
  3. If external access exists, roof ladders should be removable, retractable, or lockable. Screen walls around equipment or service yards should not provide easy access to the roof or upper windows.
  4. Provide adequate lighting and controls for roof access means and roof access points into the school.

Critical Assets/Utilities

  1. Screens at utilities, such as transformers, gas meters, generators, trash dumpsters, or other equipment shall be designed to minimize concealment opportunities and adequate to preclude unauthorized access. Installation of screens at utilities shall be compliant with utility company requirements.
  2. Access to building operations systems shall be restricted to designated users with locks, keys and/or electronic access controls. Secure all mechanical rooms with intruder detection sensors.
  3. Loading docks shall be designed to keep vehicles from driving into or parking under the facility.
  4. Spaces with critical systems shall be provided appropriate graphics to be recognizable to emergency responders.
  5. Gas meter/regulator rooms shall be provided with forced entry resistant doors and to the project standards.
  6. Gas leak detection systems/sensors shall be installed wherever gas metering or appliances are installed.
  7. Shipping and receiving areas shall be separated from all utility rooms by at least fifty (50) feet unless prohibited by site constraints. If a site is determined to be physically constrained from reasonably meeting the fifty (50) foot separation requirement, maximize the separation distance between the receiving area and the utility room to the greatest extent possible. Utility rooms and service areas include electrical, telephone, data, fire alarm, fire suppression rooms, and mechanical rooms.
  8. Critical building components should be located away from vulnerable areas. Critical building components may include, but are not limited to:
    1. Emergency generator;
    2. Normal fuel storage;
    3. Main switchgear;
    4. Telephone distribution;
    5. Fire pumps;
    6. Building control centers;
    7. Main ventilation systems if critical to building operation.
    8. Elevator machinery and controls.
    9. Shafts for stairs, elevators, and utilities.

Security Infrastructure and Design Strategies

  1. The design shall include special rooms for hazardous supplies that can be locked.
  2. The design shall include secured spaces, closets, cabinets or means of protection to minimize the use of dangerous objects from shop, cooking or other similar occupancies.
  3. Egress stairwells should be located remotely and should not discharge into lobbies, parking or loading areas.
  4. Trash receptacles, dumpsters, mailboxes and other large containers shall be kept at least thirty (30) feet from the building unless prohibited by site constraints. If a site is determined to be physically constrained from reasonably meeting the thirty (30) foot separation requirement, maximize the separation distance to the greatest extent possible.

(Source: Final Report Of The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission)

Look out for our next post about “What Architects Can Do to Design Safer Classrooms for Our Children.”

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

 

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What Can Architects Do To Design Safer Classrooms For Our Children? Part 3 Actions We Can Take To Promote Safe And Successful Schools

 ILMA Classroom 05.png

Photo Source: S&S Worldwide

Policies and funding that support comprehensive school safety and mental health efforts are critical to ensuring universal and long-term sustainability. However, school leaders can work toward more effective approaches now by taking the following actions:

  1. Work with School Leadership to promote, develop and establish a “Safety Team” that includes key personnel: principals, teachers, school-employed mental health professionals, instruction/curriculum professionals, school resource/safety officer, and a staff member skilled in data collection and analysis.
  2. Work with the school’s “Safety Team” assess and identify needs, strengths, and gaps in existing services and supports (e.g., availability of school and community resources, unmet student mental health needs) that address the physical and psychological safety of the school community.
  3. Assist with the evaluation of the safety of the school building and school grounds by examining the physical security features of the campus.
  4. Safety Team should review how current resources are being applied.
  5. Are school employed mental health professionals providing training to teachers and support staff regarding resiliency and risk factors?
  6. Do mental health staff participate in grade-level team meetings and provide ideas on how to effectively meet students’ needs?
  7. Is there redundancy in service delivery?
  8. Are multiple overlapping initiatives occurring in different parts of the school or being applied to different sets of students?
  9. Safety Team should implement an integrated approach that connects behavioral and mental health services and academic instruction and learning (e.g., are mental health interventions being integrated into an effective discipline or classroom management plan?).
  10. Safety Team should provide adequate time for staff planning and problem solving via regular team meetings and professional learning communities. Identify existing and potential community partners, develop memoranda of understanding to clarify roles and responsibilities, and assign appropriate school staff to guide these partnerships, such as school-employed mental health professionals and principals.
  11. Safety Team should provide professional development for school staff and community partners addressing school climate and safety, positive behavior, and crisis prevention, preparedness, and response.
  12. Safety Team should engage students and families as partners in developing and implementing policies and practices that create and maintain a safe school environment.
  13. As Architects we can assist the “Safety Team” by utilizing strategies developed by Crime prevention through environmental design(CPTED), a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior through environmental design. CPTED strategies rely upon the ability to influence offender decisions that precede criminal acts. Generally speaking, most implementations of CPTED occur solely within the urbanized, built environment. Specifically altering the physical design of the communities in which humans reside and congregate in order to deter criminal activity is the main goal of CPTED. CPTED principles of design affect elements of the built environment ranging from the small-scale (such as the strategic use of shrubbery and other vegetation) to the overarching, including building form of an entire urban neighborhood and the amount of opportunity for “eyes on the street”.

ILMA Classroom 06.png
Image Source: School Security – Threat and Vulnerability Assessments

Sources:

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) School Violence Prevention

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Framework For Safe Schools

ILMA Classroom 10.pngILMA Classroom 09.pngILMA Classroom 08ILMA Classroom 07

Look out for our next post about “What Architects Can Do to Design Safer Classrooms for Our Children.”

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


What Can Architects Do To Design Safer Classrooms For Our Children? Part 1: Door Security Guidelines

 ILMA Classroom 01.pngPhoto Source: The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

The increased number of school violence has created a growing public concern for safety in schools across North America and around the world. Each year, school administrators are faced with the challenge of finding ways of improving student safety from an active shooter situation despite budget cuts forcing them to defer costs for security upgrades. Unfortunately, these necessary improvements are put off, and only revisited after a horrific tragedy, such as a deadly school shooting. As a result of this type of reactionary response, coupled with mounting pressure from parent organizations, several states have or are considering changes to their building codes to allow for the installation of classroom door barricade devices. While these devices are perceived to provide immediate security, they have the significant potential to facilitate unintended consequences that could put students at even more risk and the school in risk of liability. (Source: “The Liability of Classroom Door Barricades” by Door Security & Safety Foundation)

Active Shooter Graph.pngModifying building codes to allow for door barricade devices might keep a gunman out of classrooms, but the unintended consequences associated with the devices could put children at even more risk and the school in liability. Yet, many states are seeking to change their codes under the false pretenses that door barricade devices are the only product that can secure a classroom. (Source: “Opening the Door to School Safety” by Door Security & Safety Foundation)

Door barricade devices in schools are intended to keep dangerous individuals out of classrooms, but what if that person is already in the room?

(Source: “Door barricade devices” by Door Security & Safety Foundation)

The National Association of State Fire Marshals “Guidelines” address door security devices, which are mandatory in many states as they are included as part of the International Building and Fire Codes and Life Safety Codes. They mandate that that locking mechanisms should be able to do the following: (1) provide immediate egress by being located between 34” and 48” above the floor, and not require special knowledge or effort, nor key or tool, nor require tight grasping, twisting, or pinching to operate, and accomplished with one operation; (2) be easily lockable in case of emergency from within the classroom without opening the door; (3) lockable and unlockable from outside the door.

Is your school secure in the event of a lockdown situation or an active shooter scenario? Safety isn’t just about closing the door; it’s also about opening it.

The National Association of State Fire Marshals recommends what classroom locking mechanisms can and should do. Follow these 3 easy steps to see if your classroom door locks meet these recommendations: (1) Opens from inside the room without requiring tight grasping, pinching or twisting of the wrist, and accomplished with one operation; (2) Locked and unlocked from the inside of a classroom without requiring the door to be opened, while still allowing staff entry in an emergency; (3) Locked automatically or have a simple locking mechanism such as a pushbutton, key, card, fob, fingerprint, etc., that can be locked from inside the classroom without having to open the door.

Safety Concerns Associated with Door Barricade Devices:

Non-Code Compliant:

  • These products fall short of building code requirements.
  • In most cases, these devices are not tested through the formal code process to ensure that the proper balance of life safety and security are met.

Delayed Response:

  • When someone, other than the classroom teacher, who doesn’t know where the barricade device is kept or how to install it properly is required to engage the device this could result in a delay at a critical time.

Unauthorized Engagement:

  • Storing a barricade device in a classroom makes crimes easier to carry out.
  • When used by an unauthorized person, barricades have the significant potential to facilitate unintended consequences such as bullying, harassment or physical violence.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FBI, a member of the student body is most likely to commit violence on school grounds.

Blocked Entry:

  • Because these devices are intended to serve as a barricade and prevent access from the outside, a staff member or emergency responder would not be able to enter a classroom.
  • The intruders who carried out school shootings at Virginia Tech, the West Nickel Mines School and Platte Canyon High School each used materials to barricade the doors.
  • School districts looking to install classroom door barricades devices must also weigh the possibility of an exit being blocked during an emergency.
  • In the event of a fire, these devices could delay egress resulting in fatalities.
  • Fire is one of the leading reasons, in addition to countless other tragedies, that building codes have been adopted.
  • A case could be made by someone injured in a barricaded classroom against the school district because they failed to keep him or her safe while on school property.
  • The injured party could claim he or she was trapped inside a locked classroom with no way for safety officers to enter freely.
  • School administrators should only consider traditional, tested, locking products that meet the code requirements for providing life safety in addition to security.
  • These products allow the door to be locked from the inside of a classroom without requiring the door to be opened, yet allow authorized access by staff and emergency responders in case someone inside the room intends to cause harm or injury.

(Source: The Liability of Classroom Door Barricades by Door Security & Safety Foundation)

According to testimony presented to the Sandy Hook 1 “Barricade Device? Think Twice!” Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, FDAI, FDHI, CCPR. Doors & Hardware, May 2015. Advisory Commission, there is not one documented incident of an active shooter breaching a locked classroom door by defeating the lock. Maintaining a balance of life safety and security is possible today using proven products that meet the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code. New devices being introduced may provide some level of additional security but can seriously compromise certain other aspects of life safety; that is why we have codes and standards. Unfortunately, these devices do not meet codes and may negatively affect life safety in the case of other emergencies such as a fire, which statistically is more than three times more likely to happen than an active shooter situation.  (Source: Final Report Of The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission)

What are we trying to correct if there is not one documented incident of a classroom lock being defeated?” Based on the statistics cited by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), to allow these products to be employed when they do not meet the codes is to put the public at greater harm.

  • “In 2012, students ages 12–18 were victims of about 1,364,900 nonfatal victimizations at school, including 615,600 thefts and 749,200 violent victimizations, 89,000 of which were serious violent victimizations.”
  • “During the 2009–10 school year, 85 percent of public schools recorded that one or more of these incidents of violence, theft, or other crimes had taken place, amounting to an estimated 1.9 million crimes.”
  • “During the 2011–12 school year, 9 percent of school teachers reported being threatened with injury by a student from their school. The percentage of teachers reporting that they had been physically attacked by a student from their school in 2011–12 (5 percent) was higher than in any previous survey year (ranging from 3 to 4 percent).”

(Source: DSSF White Paper Classroom Door Security)

When considering the selection of hardware which allows classroom doors to be lockable from inside the classroom, consideration should be given to the risks and potential consequences of utilizing a device which blocks the classroom door from the inside. For example, devices which prevent classroom doors from being unlocked and openable from outside the classroom may place the inhabitants of the room in peril. In addition to the requirement that classroom doors must be unlatchable in a single motion from inside the classroom (discussed above), these doors should always be unlockable and openable from outside the classroom by authorized persons.

RealView-Emergency-trends-infographic-FINAL.jpgSchool Security – Suggested Classroom Door Checklist

The “School Security – Suggested Classroom Door Checklist” identifies many parameters which should be satisfied when selecting and installing hardware on classroom doors intended to increase security in the classroom. (Source: Fire Marshals Classroom Door Security)

  • The door should be lockable from inside the classroom without requiring the door to be opened;
  • Egress from the classroom through the classroom door should be without the use of a key, a tool, special knowledge, or effort;
  • For egress, unlatching the classroom door from inside the classroom should be accomplished with one operation;
  • The classroom door should be lockable and unlockable from outside the classroom;
  • Door operating hardware shall be operable without tight grasping, tight pinching, or twisting of the wrist;
  • Door hardware operable parts should be located between 34 and 48 inches above the floor;
  • The bottom 10 inches of the “push” side of the door surface should be smooth;
  • If the school building does not have an automatic fire sprinkler system, the classroom door and door hardware may be required to be fire-rated and the door should be self-closing and self latching;
  • If the door is required to be fire-rated, the door should not be modified in any way that invalidates the required fire-rating of the door and / or door hardware;
  • In the Suggested Classroom Door Checklist, “should” is used throughout. However, based upon building codes, life safety codes, fire codes, and federal, state, and / or local laws and regulations that are applicable to a particular school, these requirements may be MANDATORY. Always check, and comply with, all applicable building and fire codes, life safety codes, and laws, regulations and other requirements.

Look out for our next post about “What Architects Can Do to Design Safer Classrooms for Our Children.”

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

 

 


What Can Architects Do To Design Safer Classrooms For Our Children? Part 2: Ideas & Safety Tips For Schools

ILMA Classroom 03.pngPhoto Source: The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

Safety Experts and Architects recommend that schools:

  1. Build a sturdy set of double doors at front entrance to control access.
  2. Position classrooms away from the front entrance.
  3. Install an intercom and a sturdy transaction window at front entrance.
  4. Separate and clearly mark a parent drop-off lane and a bus lane.
  5. Keep parking lot a distance away from school.
  6. Glaze first-floor windows with bullet-proof film or glass.
  7. Remove parking space signs reserved for specific people, which can indicate whether an administrator is inside.
  8. Number classrooms with signs that are visible down inside hallways and from outside the building.
  9. Install locks on all classroom and office doors.
  10. Trim shrubbery or trees that hug the building
  11. Install surveillance cameras
  12. Place bollards in front of the school building
  13. Compartmentalize after-school activities in one part of the building so the rest of the building can be secured after-hours

ILMA Classroom 04.pngImage Source: School Security – Threat And Vulnerability Assessments

Sources:

School Safety Infrastructure Council

Architecture and simple fixes can help improve school safety

Further Reading:

Door Barricades, Egress Requirements and Campus Safety

Look out for our next post about “What Architects Can Do to Design Safer Classrooms for Our Children.”

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Daniel D’Agostino, AIA of Plan Architecture

Who is Daniel D’Agostino, AIA?

Dan D’Agostino is an architect with over 15 years of experience as an architectural designer and project manager.  

Mr. D’Agostino has extensive experience working on projects of varying scales.  His portfolio of work ranges from new and renovations to single-family dwellings  to high-rise mixed-use buildings in dense urban areas.  Mr. D’Agostino’s work has been recognized for achievement on multiple levels.  Winning an AIA Gold Medal for a mixed-use structure designed for Lower Manhattan, recurring appearances on NBC’s George to the Rescue and achieving the coveted “Best Of” award on Houzz.

Daniel received his Bachelor of Architecture Degree from the New Jersey School of Architecture at NJIT where he continues to serve as a visiting critic.  He is a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Little Falls Planning and Zoning Board and Little Falls Economic Development Committee.  He is a licensed Architect practicing in Northern New Jersey.  In his free time he enjoys being the best father and husband he can be, golfing and playing music.

About Daniel’s firm:

planarchitecturellc is a full-service design firm which specializes in producing innovative client-driven program-based architectural design and budget appropriate problem solving. 

Founded by Daniel D’Agostino, AIA, planarchitecture’s mission is to arrive at client and site specific architectural solutions to unique client demands.  The firm produces work for public, commercial and residential clients. 

You can find Daniel Online by clicking on the following links:

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?     

I found drawing to be a great pastime as a kid.  I also enjoyed building with my father.  Inspired by curiosity, I always wanted to find ways to make things better.  Design happens to be a way of making things better.  Architecture seemed like a natural fit for me. 

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?     

Becoming an architect in general is a challenging process.  While I’m patient with people, I’m not always so patient when it comes to progress.  I like to see things getting done, movement and motion.  Five years of schooling, 3 years of internship, 7 months of licensing, in the middle of a recession was challenging.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?  

Each project has a stand out moment.  The best moments occur when we are a part of the building process and able to walk a project with a client and discuss additional opportunities.   

How does your family support what you do?   

I am lucky to have a very supportive family.  Architecture is a big part of our lives.  We just had the amazing opportunity to design and build our own home so design is very much a part of our daily conversation.  Prior to that, we would travel to see buildings, stop on a walk to discuss a building material.  Dining experiences are typically accompanied by a short analysis of how things might have been better.

How do Architects measure success?     

I think Architects are an odd bunch if I may say so myself.   As such, it’s hard to generalize.  For me, if I’m happy – I am successful.  Some of the things that make me happy related to the profession are having the time to do something creative or inventive.  Having a staff meeting where everything gels.  Client meetings that end in laughter, hugs and an optimistic plan for advancing a project.  Discussion with a contractor where we walk away saying – this is going to be amazing!

What matters most to you in design?      

Function, daylight and views.  Each of our projects start and end with how the plan works, how we experience daylight and what we see both internally and externally along a view corridor.

What do you hope to achieve over the next 2 years? 5 years?  

I enjoy single family design and construction.  Over the last two or three years, we have designed a number of medium density residential developments.  I discovered that we were able to bring a neat little twist to this market that isn’t commonly found in these developments.  Our attention to detail and space making is needed in these larger projects.  I hope that in 5 years, we are doing a lot more of this.   

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?     

It’s a toss up – Frank Lloyd Wright or Louis Kahn

As an architect, saying you like FLW is like saying you like the Beatles.  I mean, the Beatles are mainstream, have a ton of hits, and reinvented themselves multiple times over the years.  FLW did the same thing.  His work is accessible and always delivers.  If you dig deep and learn about why his buildings look the way they do (sustainability, economics, desire to build cheaply, wartime rationing, etc.) they are amazing.  

Louis Kahn, on the other hand, not so mainstream and certainly not so accessible.  His buildings manage to be incredibly complex yet simple.  Having traveled the world looking at architecture, the Salk Institute was my greatest experience.  When you walk that plaza, it’s an actual experience.    

Do you have a coach or mentor?     

Not really.  I’m a pretty good listener and observer.  If you keep your antennas up, you are going to learn a lot.

What is your favorite historic and modern (contemporary) project? Why?  

The Pantheon in Rome is my favorite historic work.  It is structurally significant.  The sun is used as a light fixture in the building charting messages.  It’s all encompassing.  The Salk Institute is my favorite contemporary project due to its connection to site.  A strong axis of symmetry and orientation with the horizon.  It’s breathtaking.

Where do you see the profession going over the next few decades?  

I see the profession going more toward design-build.  There’s a lot of waste in the profession.  It’s impossible to get every single detail included in a set of plans if you are trying to adhere to an architectural budget and short timeline.  In New Jersey, the cost of land and taxes are so high, there is hardly ever an opportunity to draw every single detail and review it with your client.  The industry has therefore come to accept (through demanding) a set of plans for base building, and finer elements being decided by the builder.  As this process has evolved, we have come to see many features lost because original design intent isn’t considered.  It will also help to minimize the number of projects that come in “over budget”.

What type of technology do you see in the design and construction industries?  

I think modular still has a chance.  When I was leaving college, modular was the new thing because it was faster and cheaper.  Over time, it turned out, modular wasn’t exactly faster, or cheaper.  We should pay attention to modular building with an emphasis on trying to work aesthetic into it.

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?      

Walt Disney.  We need to make sure our buildings work functionally but we also want to be entertained while being part of an experience.  Disney was great at this.

Which building or project type would you like to work on that you haven’t been part of yet?    

I’d like to do a New York City high rise on the West Side.  Growing up in Hudson County, New Jersey, the New York skyline was a big part of my childhood.  I drive down a street and see projects I designed going up or completed and you feel a sense of pride and permanence.  I’d like to have that feeling looking at the skyline.

How do you hope to inspire / mentor the next generation of Architects?   

Our office consists of 10 people, 9 of which are designers.  I constantly put forward that our job is to help our clients and serve them.  Listen to them and find the best way to deliver that which they are requesting.

What advice would you give aspiring architects (K-12)? College students? Graduates?  

I started working as a Sophomore in High School at an architecture firm.  I would recommend it.  It gives you an opportunity through college to understand “how” you might use what you are learning.  I would recommend college students get involved in outreach.  Get involved in your local community and start planting seeds for future networking opportunities.  Can you join the planning board? Is there a historical society you can join? 

For Graduates, it’s going to sound funny but go work at a restaurant as a server.  You are going to learn how to interact with people, understand how a person asks for something they need either verbally or with body language.  You’ll learn how people feel comfortable by studying where they ask to sit, the way they face, how they talk to one another.  You’ll learn about working in a tight space in the Kitchen and the importance of efficiency and flow. 

I was lucky – I learned how to speak Spanish working a restaurant while working with the Kitchen staff.  This has proven to be invaluable as the two predominate languages spoken on a job site are Spanish and English.  I am able to converse in both languages.  While sad, it’s worth noting that when I graduated from college, I made more money as a weekend waiter than I did as a full time draftsman.  It helps to have money.

What does Architecture mean to you?     

Simple, a place to be comfortably protected from natural elements.

What is your design process?     

My design process starts with the site.  From there, I sit with my clients and I start designing with them.  I’m not the type that comes to my single family residential clients with plans for how they should live.  With my larger development work, we analyze the site to maximize efficiency and density.

 If you could not be an Architect, what would you be?     

I couldn’t imagine myself being anything else.

What is your dream project?     

I’d love to work on a stage set.  Loose some of the parameters of gravity, building code, weather resistance to create an environment.

What advice do you have for a future Executive leader?     

Surround yourself with great people in all aspects of your life and consistently invest in yourself.

What are three key challenges you face as a leader in business today and one trend you see in your industry?     

As a business leader, I find staffing challenging because we are a service industry – not just design and construction so personnel is the most important.  You can get anyone that meet’s your qualifications.  You can also get anyone with a good personality.  Getting them both isn’t always the easiest.  When you do you, do everything you can to keep them.  Balancing the administrative elements of the business while maintaining your service qualities is a challenge.  I was only able to find success here after hiring administrative personnel.  When I started the business five years ago at 29, fresh out of a recession, no portfolio of work and competing against other architects more than double my age was a challenge.  We’ve now developed an impressive resume to support my interview process, however being the “young” architect seems to rear its head.  I try to convince people, it’s not the number of years you’ve been doing it, rather the number of years you’ve been doing it right.  The trend now is the integration of internet design.

What one thing must an executive leader be able to do to be successful in the next 3 years? 

Develop patience and resilience which has no regard for timeline.  Patience, as I stated earlier, wasn’t one of my virtues.  Everything takes time.  Resilience is important because the highs are way up there and the lows – we don’t talk about them.

What are some executive insights you have gained since you have been sitting in the executive leadership seat – or what is one surprise you have encountered as the world of business continues to morph as we speak?     

As the world of business continues to morph, our industry has stayed the same in principal.  We have to be flexible in how we deliver information.  A BIM model isn’t always the answer, sometimes a sketch to be texted out in 20 minutes is more important.  We also have to remember, architecture is a business.  The more successful firms know this.

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?           

Surround yourself with great people.  It starts with family and follows through staff, clients, contractors.  Work as hard as possible.  While it’s important to get your sleep and rest, you still have to write that extra email or do that extra sketch.  Go that extra mile, especially when it may not be needed or no one may be watching.

For more exclusive ILMA interviews click here.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

Gift Ideas from ILMA


Materiality and Green Architecture: The Effect of Building Materials on Sustainability and Design

The types of building materials you use on your home can greatly affect the sustainability and design for years to come. Here are some high-quality, green building materials to look into for your home.

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Solar Reflective Roofing Shingles

Having high-quality roofing shingles on your house is important to help your home stay protected longer.  There are many sustainable materials on the market for roofing shingles that you should consider for your home.

One type of sustainable roofing shingles is made up of solar reflective granules with a type of polymer modified asphalt, making your roof tough and long-lasting against the effects of harsh weather. This type of material reflects solar rays that may enter your home and heat up your house which raise your electric bill for A/C. By reflecting the solar rays, the color of your roofing shingles also lasts longer, maintaining the beauty of your home for many years.

The asphalt is strong enough to keep your roofing shingles in perfect condition even during storms with high winds and high volumes of rain. This type of product will have warranties on the roofing shingles, ensuring that they will last for usually at least 12 years and in up to 110 mph wind. Investing in high-quality roofing shingles is something that you are sure to benefit from.

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Strong, Sustainable Exterior Siding

When it comes to the exterior of your home, fiber cement siding is a great alternative compared to more traditional materials like vinyl and wood. This type of siding will ensure the sustainability of your home for longer, often with a warranty of up to 50 years. With great protection against the harsh elements of the weather, fiber cement siding does not warp or fade as quickly as other materials, keeping the design of your home looking its best.

This material comes in a variety of textures so you can customize your home with whatever color and finishing look that your desire.  Fiber cement siding protects your home from water, frost, and cold weather, keeping you warm and dry. Being a product that has the designation of National Green Building Standard, fiber cement siding is a building material to use when thinking about high-quality, green architecture.

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Eco-Friendly Interior Design Material

For the interior design of your home, consider using bamboo panels. Made from bamboo grass, these panels are sustainable and support green architecture. Bamboo panels can be used in many places of your home. From cabinets to tables, and even accent walls, bamboo is an innovative material that will also give your space a modern feel.

Great for designing, this material comes in a variety of designs and textures including chocolate bamboo, natural bamboo, carbonized bamboo, and bamboo veneer. Bamboo panels are very strong and dense, long lasting and may qualify you for eco-friendly construction credits.

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Reduce Your Heating Bill with Great Insulation

Insulated concrete blocks are a great material to consider that often outperforms other building materials for the exterior of your home.

This type of material is installed as one continuous system with no breaks in the wall, ensuring complete protection of your house from bugs and elements of the weather. Insulated concrete blocks keep your house warmer in cold weather and can greatly reduce your heating bill, which is also good for the environment.

The core is made up of concrete, making this wall material durable and strong.  These concrete blocks are easier and safer to install than other materials, taking out some of the risk of constructing the exterior of your home. With this type of material, you can also design the exterior and interior walls however you would like as insulated concrete blocks come in a variety of finishes.

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Materials for Green Architecture

These eco-friendly materials can have a large effect on the sustainability and design of your home. They can increase the lifespan of your home, saving you time and money and the long run. These materials also come in a variety of designs so you can build and design your home how you want, making it the beautiful place to live that you imagined.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

 


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Tim Witzig of @PKSBArchitects

This week we have a great interview with Tim Witzig.  I had the pleasure of meeting Tim this year and we had a lengthy conversation.  I think you will be impressed with his take on the world of architecture and design.

About Tim Witzig

Tim Witzig, AIA, Principal at PKSB Architects, is known for his breadth of understanding.  He has played an instrumental role in the success of PKSB for almost two decades.

Mr. Witzig has overseen teams for numerous projects. His experience includes, public and private schools, religious spaces, residential interiors, personalized homes, commercial interiors and a history of projects with civic importance. He served as a designer and Project Manager for the interior renovations of the AIA award-winning Franklin, Mansfield and Shoreham Hotels in New York City.

He was responsible for directing fabrication for guest area upgrades, interior elements and furnishings for all three hotels. Mr. Witzig has also participated in the design and construction administration of the Physics Building Addition and Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology Research Building at the University of Virginia, refurbishments for the Joseph E. Seagram Company in New York, and customized hotel resort interiors for the Walt Disney World Company. Prior to joining PKSB in 1990, Mr. Witzig was a designer at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with a team developing the first designs for Worldwide Plaza at Columbus Circle. His participation in designing and managing projects with various scales, local code requirements, and unique technical requirements has brought Mr. Witzig a broad understanding of the challenges our client’s face in realizing a project.

About the Firm

PKSB Architects was established in 1964 by Giovanni Pasanella. Celebrating over 50 years in practice, PKSB is recognized as an award-winning full-service firm with a long history of completing projects of every scale and scope. Our practice areas include academic, preservation, institutional, residential, hospitality, public housing, infrastructure, public art, civic memorials, and houses of worship. PKSB’s efforts have been recognized with numerous design awards, including the prestigious P/A Award and AIA honors on the local, state and national levels.

While PKSB’s practice has evolved since its first years as Pasanella + Klein Stolzman + Berg, a commitment to architecture that blends artistry, craft, and pragmatism has always defined its work. The firm has a modernist foundation, but does not rely on a set “PKSB style.” Rather, the needs of the client come first, and PKSB’s strength lies in its ability to create solutions that respond to the unique aspects of each client, program, and location.

“Since its founding in 1964, PKSB has distinguished itself as an innovative practice whose projects combine artistry, craft and pragmatism. A spirit of collaboration and a willingness to explore have been the hallmarks of the firm since its inception.”

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?     

High School age. Seemed to encompass all my interests when I listed them. Before those years I wanted to be a Disney Imagineer.

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?  

Math. Undergraduate math, calculus, trig were such failures. Cost of school, lived in a marginal neighborhood in St. Louis to keep my living costs low for a couple of undergraduate years. During grad school working during breaks, working in the library for a little cash in my pocket when I should have been in studio probably. The library that I worked in up at Columbia was the library devoted to library sciences…only… could not have been more boring.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?    

Bess Myerson, Miss America 1945. She made me laugh… not right away. You got the joke on the way home in the re-telling. She wanted a beautiful new modern sculptural stair in her NY apartment renovation. I did not get to design the stair but I watched the process and helped do the drawings for the shell of the apartment. I learned a lot working with her, and helping make presentations and seeing how all talented  people involved worked.

How does your family support what you do?   

They listen to my ranting. Patiently.

How do Architects measure success?  

I think, gladly, that measure is made on very large field. I think if one helps, no matter how small, to make a piece of the world a more beautiful or usable place with our buildings, cities, infrastructure… one is a success. If you enjoy it as well? Huge success.

What matters most to you in design? 

Constructability, utility, timelessness, passing on inspiration to the users in some way.

What do you hope to achieve over the next 2 years? 5 years? 

Focus and allow others to run with the balls.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why? 

I do not really have a favorite, but if pressed on just the Architect part and not the human being part, then Frank Lloyd Wright. He achieved a very warm and approachable transcendence with his own style. If you look up Architect in the dictionary, it would not be wrong to see his picture there I think.

Do you have a coach or mentor? 

A few. The founders of the Architecture firm I am a part of now, Henry Stolzman, and Wayne Berg would go day-by-day explaining the practice and business of Architecture. My current business partner Sherida Paulsen brings reality to my day dreams. Going way back to school days there was William B. Bricken and Leslie Laskey. The latter should me how you could live like a designer and get interested in everything.

What is your favorite historic and modern (contemporary) project? Why? 

That’s so hard there are so many on both ends. Villa Malaparte in Capri. and almost anything Louis Kahn did, Yale British Art, currently I keep looking at Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and their Kim & Tritton Residence Hall. Over and over I stare at that simple building. 2 story residential dorm building with no stairs or elevators inside. Genius.

Where do you see the profession going over the next few decades?  

I think it’s very exciting, and I think Architects or folks who know a thing or two about making buildings will be in high demand. I think the firms will get larger and folks within the firms will be specialized a bit more. I think Architecture as a defined terms will blur and blend into other things we use.

What type of technology do you see in the design and construction industries? 

The 3D modeling and Building Information Modeling and ability to bring that up zoom in to look at all of the “guts” anytime and anywhere,, well it is already happening now and it should just get better and more fun. I would like to see a dose of A.I. in some of the mundane and complex tasks we do, like crosschecking current rules, zoning, codes, that come into play. I would like a computer programmer take a crack at developing a “ArchAI” program that will compile a basic building envelope and create a set of drawings just off say 10 basic inputs or dimensions you give it.

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design? 

Failure.

Which building or project type would you like to work on that you haven’t been part of yet? 

I would love to work on a large community center or cultural icon like the 92Y (92nd Street Y)

How do you hope to inspire / mentor the next generation of Architects?  

You sit with them see what they are doing and ask questions? If there is something good there, progress or talent in a particular direction you help develop that and point them to something that they might find helpful or interesting based on the direction they are already heading in. You might point them in a direction where they might get un-stuck (if they share their sticking point). Then they come back and ask again.  Then the mentoring kind of begins.

What advice would you give aspiring architects (K-12)? College students? Graduates? 

Just keep swimming. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Do not be afraid to fail.

What does Architecture mean to you? 

Every time I get mad at it and curse it for being hard, or impossible it comes back, I see a beautiful building and I just think it’s great and there are so many talented people to watch and buildings to visit. I guess it’s just ingrained in there and I hope I can enjoy it as long as possible.

What is your design process? 

That is a hard question. It really depends. But Testing and Tossing is such a big part. I used to say do not draw more in the first half of the day that you cannot erase in the second half. Of course we don’t have to spend time erasing anymore, so we have more time for flipping stuff on its head and seeing what can be gained. One tries to list, develop or articulate the restraints, constraints and guiderails first so you can get to the design phase. Then the Testing and Tossing begins. I still believe in the old fashioned pin-up in a room and let the criticism flow.

If you could not be an Architect, what would you be? 

The animation thing I guess. It’s never too late to go to Hollywood. Yes it is I think.

What is your dream project?  

The Museum of the Tour de France. It must have views and a fantastic café. And banks of Zwifting set-up’s with a huge High Def screens floating in front of real glazed views.

What advice do you have for a future Executive leader? 

Help others succeed and then encourage and praise, daily if you can. Sit right across or next to someone at their desk for bit, avoid constant big meetings. Smaller ones. You do the leg work the big meeting might have made easier.

What are three key challenges you face as a leader in business today and one trend you see in your industry? 

Technology costs, Marketing. Managing cash flow. I see a trend in larger firms as an umbrella with smaller brands below     

What one thing must an executive leader be able to do to be successful in the next 3 years? 

Listen, stay positive, learn how people do what they do.

What are some executive insights you have gained since you have been sitting in the executive leadership seat – or what is one surprise you have encountered as the world of business continues to morph as we speak?  

Younger people are very creative in the way they work and use software. I think it’s important to “give in” and “give up” the ways one might have done something in the past. Even if those ways worked well before. Be willing to re-prioritize what you thought was important in how projects are realized and mananged.

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?   

Keep a sense of humor, laugh and value irony along the way. Take some time to enjoy the journey and not just the finish line. Realize everyone one else is trying to do the same thing, and help whenever you can. Each client is a chance to learn something new.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

Gift Ideas from ILMA


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Toon Dreessen @ArchitectsDCA

Click on the image above or click here to listen to our interview with Toon Dreessen.

Click on the following links to learn more about Toon Dreessen and DCArchitects:

For more exclusive ILMA interviews please click here (written interviews) or click here (audio interviews).

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

Gift Ideas from ILMA


Furniture & Product Design by Famous Architects

Picture1Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – “Barcelona Chair”

Le Corbusier CollectionLe Corbusier – “The LC4” (a chaise lounge)

Edge of the SeatRem Koolhaas – “Edge of the Seat”

Ball ChairEero Aarnio – “Ball Chair”

Ettore SottsassEttore Sottsass – Art Deco Post-Modernism

Rocking ChaiseFrank Gehry – “Rocking Chaise”

“Mesa” Glass TableZaha Hadid – “Mesa” Glass Table

Paradigm ShiftRem Koolhaas – “Paradigm Shift”

Kettle Tea RexMichael Graves – “Kettle Tea Rex” tea kettle

Paragon Lamp for ArtemideDaniel Libeskind – “Paragon Lamp” for Artemide


Architecture Design and Industry Forecasts for 2018

Author: Taylor Young (December 2017)

Trends in the architecture and design industries can be used as predictors for the future, helping to create forecasts for what homeowners may be looking for in the years to come. Many industry influencers predict several new trends for 2018, including open floor plans, sustainable design, and Smart home features. Including any of these and the following trends into your work in 2018 is sure to have a big impact on client satisfaction.

Modified Wood

Eco-friendly design and sustainability have topped most home and business owner lists for the last several years, and forecasts for 2018 predict more of the same. This includes using materials, such as modified wood that are durable, low maintenance, and that have a very minimal impact on the environment.

Modified wood is created using a bio-based liquid on softwoods, rendering them harder and more durable than many popular hardwoods. Because softwoods are faster growing, they create a more sustainable product. And because the resulting material is so low maintenance, it doesn’t require a lot of upkeep, which makes it very attractive to busy homeowners who want style, but without the added maintenance costs.

Engineered Wood

For interiors, engineered hardwood, like that made by Nydree, is proving to be exceptionally popular as well. Engineered hardwoods have a thin, hardwood veneer over several layers of material, each facing a different direction. This layering produces a very stable floor that doesn’t react to moisture or humidity the way that solid hardwood floors do, so the material can be installed below grade, in bathrooms, or in other areas that don’t typically see hardwood.

Nydree takes the process a step further, infusing their floors with acrylic. The result is a beautiful, long lasting floor that doesn’t use as much hardwood as competitors, providing a better, more eco-friendly product that requires less maintenance and care. This meets the needs of two trends at once – the desire for sustainability in building materials, and the low maintenance care that most people want in their homes and offices.

Hardwood Plywood

Sustainability in design extends to all areas of the industry, right down to the hardwood used to build cabinets, panels, and furniture. Hardwood plywood, like Columbia Forest Products’ PureBond, contains no added urea-formaldehyde, and meets LEED standards

PureBond is a moisture resistant plywood that can be used anywhere a hardwood veneer is required. As homeowners become more conscious of what goes into their homes, by building with a better quality plywood, you can not only get better results, you can also meet consumer demands at every level.

Handmade Furniture

From a design standpoint, many features that homeowners are looking for include things like open floor plans, and furniture that can have multiple uses and purposes, particularly in smaller spaces. However, there is also an emphasis on quality. Homeowners want pieces for their homes which have history, interest, and depth that goes beyond the way that they look.

This may be why there is a trend toward handmade furniture pieces, such as Amish living room furniture. With classic lines and details, Amish furniture fits into many different styles of décor, including some modern designs. The furniture lines are clean, with little ornate or decorative detailing, which makes them an ideal fit for many homes, particularly in busy households where low maintenance and durability are preferred.

Oversized Tile

Along with open floor plans, comes the need for a single flooring that can extend from one end of the home to another without interruption. Hardwood is a popular choice for many homes, but in modern and contemporary style settings, there is also a trend toward tile, particularly oversized porcelain tiles in a variety of textures.

Oversized tiles that are larger than 18-inches have fewer grout joints to deal with, which makes less of a grid on the floor. This in turn creates a clean, open appearance that works well with the trend toward open floor plans. Porcelain tile in particular is easy to care for and durable – it doesn’t require special cleaners or sealing and is unlikely to chip or crack. It also comes in a wide range of styles and finishes, including those that mimic the look of metal, glass, and even fabric, so it’s possible to find a tile that will complement any style or design.

Look to the Future with Today’s Trends

Trends help point the way toward what’s going to be popular or sought after in the coming years. That’s why so many industry influencers are careful to broadcast what they see as the next big thing. If you’re looking for ways to increase client satisfaction in the coming year, consider incorporating any of these forecast materials or designs into your work in 2018. Look for sustainable, durable, and low maintenance style and materials to help capture industry ideals today and tomorrow.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

 


@FC3ARCHITECTURE – Completed Residential Project (North Arlington, NJ)

Greetings,

The following is an update to a project that we posted a while back:
@FC3ARCHITECTURE – Project Under Construction (North Arlington, NJ)

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III, AIA
Registered Architect
Licensed in CT, DC, DE, FL, MD, NJ, NY, PA, VA
I Love My Architect – Facebook
FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
web: http://fc3arch.com


Architect’s Sketchbook – Montclair State University (Sketches by @FrankCunhaIII, 2017)

College Hall is where the history and the future of Montclair State meet. It’s where every student’s college journey begins with Undergraduate Admissions and ends with the submission of their final audit to the Office of the Registrar for graduation.

College Hall is where it all started. Back in 1903, the New Jersey State Normal School in Trenton could no longer support New Jersey’s growing need for qualified teachers by itself, so the state approved plans for a new normal school to serve northern New Jersey. (A normal school was a post-secondary school devoted to training teachers.) And in 1908, the New Jersey State Normal School at Montclair admitted its first students.

College Hall’s Spanish mission-style architecture, which was adopted for other buildings on campus, was the inspiration of benefactor Edward Russ, a member of the New Jersey State Board of Education who liked buildings he saw on a trip to California. So he integrated the style into plans for College Hall, complete with red-tile roofs—a look that lives on in campus construction today.

In the beginning, College Hall housed almost everything—administrative offices, classrooms, a library and a gym. Today, it is Montclair State’s administrative hub, housing the offices of the President and the Provost, University Advancement, Admissions, the Registrar, the Graduate School and more.

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Dedicated to the first president of Montclair State, Charles S. Chapin, in 1928, it is one of the original buildings of the Montclair State Normal School. This former residence hall was renovated in 1974, and again in 2009, and is now the home of the John J. Cali School of Music. The Leshowitz Recital Hall is also located in Chapin Hall.

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Russ Hall was built in 1915 and served as the first residential facility of the State Normal School at Montclair, now of course known as Montclair State University. Converted at one point to an administrative building and then later renovated back to a residence hall, Russ Hall provides suite-style accommodations for approximately 100 students.

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IMG_2253Dedicated to Allan C. Morehead, an alumnus and former professor, executive vice president and provost at Montclair State. Morehead Hall was used as a demonstration high school from 1929 to 1973. It now houses several student support services offices.

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Architect’s Sketchbook – Cape May, NJ (Sketches by @FrankCunhaIII, August 5, 2017)

A few sketches from my brief trip to Cape May after my triathlon race.

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