Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with @Collier1960 Collier Ward

Collier Ward is a registered Architect, an aspiring novel and short story writer, an acknowledged construction industry influencer, and a follower of Jesus, who thrives on communication and community.

“One of my long-term career goals is to see more books, movies, and television shows about architects and architecture. For years I have said “Architecture Holds a Thousand Stories” and it remains an untapped source for dramatic content. If you are in charge of story development in the entertainment industry I would be glad to discuss the comedy and drama embedded in my profession. If you have interest in any of these subjects, I’d be pleased to connect with you.” -Collier Ward

Connect with Collier Ward on LinkedIn or  Twitter.

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?

As a child, I’m not even sure how old I was, I saw my older brother drawing a floor plan. I didn’t understand the series of rectangles and asked him what it was. He informed me that it was our house. To me, a house was depicted by the archetypal image of a simple box with a door, a sloped roof, and a chimney with a swirl of smoke. I told him it was an awful drawing. He explained that it was what we’d see from above if we took the roof off and looked in from above. Then I saw it! The bedrooms, the kitchen, the carport were just as they should be. Although I considered art teacher, artist, cartoonist, and ad man as possible careers, this childhood revelation of architecture proved to be my origin story.

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?

Other than a few financial struggles and loan debts (which don’t even compare to today’s students’) my schooling and internship were fairly typical. From the first day I walked on campus (Auburn University, 1979) to the day I became registered in North Carolina was just under a decade.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?

As an intern, I worked on the College of Architecture building at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The design architect was Gwathmey Siegel (I worked for the local firm that produced the Construction Documents.) I had the pleasure of detailing the three monumental stairs in the main gallery, based on concepts by Charles Gwathmy. Since then I’ve worked with many Architects who climbed those stairs and pulled all-nighters in those studios.

How does your family support what you do?

My wife and I were married in my third year of school. If there were awards for architects’ spouses Celese would have several by now. She has supported, humored, and encouraged me to this day.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?

As a student, I had two architects (one past, one current) that inspired and influenced me most; both for their writings as well as their designs. I think it’s interesting that both Alvar Aalto and Robert Venturi practiced with their wives.

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

Having grown up in St. Louis, MO, the Gateway Arch (as much sculpture as a building) has always been a favorite landmark for me. It was a source of pride – we took visitors up when they came to town. It was also a link to my fascination with Finnish architecture.

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

Our profession has transformed very little over the past three decades. Groups within the profession push for change (improved education, environmental sustainability, employment diversity, etc,) but to the rank and file architect (and the clients we serve) I’m not sure much has changed. Nevertheless, I have hope for future.

What does Architecture mean to you?

“True Architecture exists only where man stands in the center, his comedy and tragedy both,” said Alvar Aalto. When all is said and done, architecture is the stage upon which we live the stories of our lives.

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

This is my favorite question. I will always be an architect, but I hope to reach more people with my other passion – writing. For years I have said, “Architecture holds a thousand stories.” Our profession is a closed book to most people. I believe well-written stories will reveal to the population at large what Architects can do. Every other profession has its TV shows, books, and movies; why not Architecture?

What is your dream project?

Per my previous answer, I would like to be the story consultant for a movie or TV series that accurately portrays what architects do – and can do – for our society. I want a wide audience to know the joy and drama that is embedded in every work of architecture.

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?

As cliché as it sounds, hard work is essential. But not hard work and long hours for the sake of fulfilling a stereotype; hard work toward a personal goal. I quote Daniel Burnham; “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work…”

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

 

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Creating High Performance Buildings through Integrative Design Process

The “High Performance by Integrative Design” film by RMI includes examples of how design teams collaborate in new ways to integrate high-performance design elements, such as daylighting, energy efficiency and renewable energy, for optimal performance. Viewers experience charrette discussions and see the design process unfold on projects such as the Empire State Building retrofit, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Phipps Conservancy in Pittsburgh, the Desert Living Center in Las Vegas, Willow School in New Jersey and Chicago Botanic Gardens.

Typical Design & Construction Process

Conventional planning, design, building, and operations processes often fail to recognize that buildings are part of larger, complex systems. As a result, solving for one problem may create other problems elsewhere in the system.1

Integrative Design & Construction Process

Collaboration leads to innovation

An integrated design process (IDP) involves a holistic approach to high performance building design and construction. It relies upon every member of the project team sharing a vision of sustainability, and working collaboratively to implement sustainability goals. This process enables the team to optimize systems, reduce operating and maintenance costs and minimize the need for incremental capital. IDP has been shown to produce more significant results than investing in capital equipment upgrades at later stages.2


As discussed in a previous post, the integrated process requires more time and collaboration during the early conceptual and design phases than conventional practices. Time must be spent building the team, setting goals, and doing analysis before any decisions are made or implemented. This upfront investment of time, however, reduces the time it takes to produce construction documents. Because the goals have been thoroughly explored and woven throughout the process, projects can be executed more thoughtfully, take advantage of building system synergies, and better meet the needs of their occupants or communities, and ultimately save money, too.3


Considerations and Advantages of an Integrative Design Process:

  • ID&CP processes and strategies can be implemented to varying degrees depending upon the complexity of a project and an owner’s project goals.
  • A project team must be carefully assembled very early on in the process to ensure success.
  • All key participants must subscribe to the collaborative effort of establishment clear goals.
  • All project stakeholders must be involved and remain involved in the project, and must communicate openly and frequently.
  • Key participants must employ appropriate technology to foster collaborative design and construction.

Similar to the Construction Management at Risk approach to project delivery, the owner can benefit from the following IPD advantages:

  • Owner receives early cost estimating input, sometimes as early as conceptual design.
  • The owner can take advantage of special services such as:
    • Feasibility studies
    • Value engineering
    • Life cycle costs
    • Identification of long-lead items and their pre-purchase
  • Significant time can be saved because the design effort is emphasized and completed earlier in the process, and because construction can begin before the design is fully complete.
  • Architectural and engineering fees can be reduced by the early involvement of the specialty contractors.
  • Construction costs are minimized by incorporating constructability reviews into the process, and by the designers incorporating materials, methods, and systems that the team knows are more cost effective.
  • Operating costs can be reduced by providing opportunities to greatly affect long-term energy and resource use through design.
  • Capital costs can be reduced, thanks to clearer and better coordinated construction documents, which should minimize the incidence of change orders that impact both cost and time.
  • Misunderstanding between the parties is minimized when the IPD Team works together during the planning stages of the project.
  • The owner’s risk is minimized as the IPD Team approach tends to focus on early identification of potential conflicts and issues through the utilization of modeling tools. This early identification results in timely problem solving and resolution of issues through the use of models, as opposed to problem solving in the field and constructed environments.


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


Frans Johansson: “Act & Collaborate to Drive Change”

Frans Johansson is an innovation expert and author of The Medici Effect. As CEO of The Medici Group, he leads a team which helps clients improve their innovation efforts through an approach they call Intersectional Thinking.

In the following video Frans Johansson illustrates how relentless trial-and-error – coming up with an idea, executing it on a small scale, and then refining it – is THE distinguishing characteristic of the greatest artists, scientists, and entrepreneurs. Why? Because humans are not very good at predicting which ideas are going to be a success. Thus, nearly every major breakthrough innovation has been preceded by a string of failed or misguided executions. So, as Frans says quoting Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

The idea for the book “The Medici Effect” is based on intersection.  The best way to come up with groundbreaking ideas is to combine very different ideas – like termites and architecture; ice and beds; and bikinis and burqas.  Diversity drives innovation.

What Drives Innovation?

We innovate best when we connect with others and share new ideas/perspectives. The key is to connect across our differences.

Technology increasingly drives new operational and business models.

He created a magazine “Catalyst” to bring stuff together, started a software company that “went really well until it didn’t.”.

He investigates how intersections lead to innovations.

We have the best chance to innovate when we connect across our differences.

Innovation is important because the world is changing very quickly.

Example:  Spanish fashion company Zara can go from design to selling a dress across the world in 7 days.

A more sobering example; only 68% of recent law school graduates are working in a job that requires a J.D.

Yet our ability to innovate constricts as our firms get larger.  Innovation tends to come from newcomers, upstarts.

One reason is that we tend to use logic as the only guidance for reaching success.  For instance, Audi and Volvo might both to decide to address their minor deficiencies, then end up with cars that look quite similar.

Why is it Necessary to Innovate Quickly?

If you want to keep your competitive advantage, you have to keep innovating because there has been a stunning drop in the amount of time it takes for your competitors to catch up with you.

Why is it so Hard to Innovate?

Because change is difficult and intimidating, we tend to settle for tweaking things around the edges rather than making a comprehensive change. The impact of this is adding more widgets to a Yahoo search engine until the clutter is overcome by the spare and elegant design of a Google search engine.

New Ideas Are Combinations of Other

Johansson proposes that all new ideas are combinations of existing ideas.  But not all combinations of ideas are created equal.

Working Understanding

Most truly stunning innovations result from combination two different ideas. The greater the number of ideas that you generate and implement, the greater your chance of a breakthrough. You need to try many things because humans are very bad at predicting what will work. The key is to keep trying until you perfect your execution. When your first idea doesn’t work, you have to try again. Diverse teams can unleash an explosion of new ideas. You end up with an exponential increase in new ideas that leads to more opportunities for innovation.

Create the Environment Necessary to Foster Innovation

We can help organize our firms to foster innovation. This ranges from seating people within your department in such a way that they can’t help be exposed to new ideas and new ways of working. Individually, you also can ensure that you personally make connections with people within the firm who are in different disciplines or from different backgrounds or have different interests.

Don’t Give Up! Innovators Fail More Often

We are horrible at predicting what will work. We don’t often hear the tales of the bad ideas only the heroic ending of how someone became successful with their one brilliant idea and how they were able to envision a new future and make that future a reality.

What is the Most Effective Way to Execute?

Directional ideas often are executed in step-by-step fashion.  More innovative ideas can take longer and get developed less directly.

We use up energy, money, and reputation in getting to a goal. So start by taking the first step; an easy manageable step.

Start with a good idea. And then act on it. Johansson calls this the “smallest executable step.” It’s not about going directly to the desired Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Rather, execute the first step; adjust based on results; execute again. The key is to iterate your way to success.

Some examples provided by Johansson:

ANTS & TRUCK DRIVERS

The example of ants and truck drivers, which I talk about in one of the chapters. So there is this telecommunications engineer that has been is trying to figure out how to efficiently route telecom messages through a haphazard routing system. And one day the communications engineer met an ecologist, who studies social insects, like wasps and ants. And they started talking, and the ecologist described how ants search for food. As it turned out, the ant’s search strategy turned out to be very applicable to the routing of telecom message packets. Once the engineer realized this, he decided to explore this particular intersection between ant ecology and computer search algorithms, so he spent three years looking at the connection between the way social insects behave and the way you can use computers to optimize particular types of search algorithms. And that has now lead to an entirely new field called swarm intelligence, which essentially came out of the intersection of the study of social insects and computer search algorithms. This methodology has been used in everything from helping truck drivers find their way around the Swiss Alps to helping unmanned aerial vehicles search for terrorists in Afghanistan.

TERMITES & ARCHITECTURE

A man was commissioned to build the largest office building complex in Harare, Zimbabwe without air conditioning.

He did it by combining the ideas of architecture and termite houses.

Termite houses open and close vents to regulate heat and cold. He combined ideas from these two fields to break new ground and build an energy efficient office complex that was able to maintain a comfortable temperature.

512px-Natural_ventilation_high-rise_buildings.svg.png

BURKINI

At the intersections of different ideas and cultures, the Medici effect happens.

For example, if you wanted to come up with a new, creative idea for swimwear, usually you would combine swimwear with the beach. But what if you combined swimwear with the idea of a burqa?

A lady moved to Australia where the normal female swimwear was bikinis. Many traditional Moslem women go swimming in their burqas. She combined the ideas of bikinis and burqas – and made a burqa out of bikini material.

After the fact, an innovative idea seems somewhat obvious.

People that change the world try far more ideas than others because we are horrible at predicting what ideas will work. Einstein published over 240 papers, many of which not a single person referenced. Google has launched hundreds of products. Picasso painted lots of paintings to figure out what paintings did work.

To be successful, you have to take this notion into account – that you won’t always be successful.

WIKIPEDIA

Take Wikipedia, for example. We may have thought – is that even possible? Creating Wikipedia takes understanding the altruistic nature of people and understanding the Internet. Before he launched

Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales launched Newspedia and asked experts to contribute to it. After six months, there were only twenty posts. Jimmy’s new idea was to allow anyone to make posts. Wikipedia has been one of the most successful Internet projects. Jimmy Wales kept trying.

How does this play out? Maybe you have an idea. Often from an idea you create a large goal and then you use 100% of your resources (your money and your reputation) to reach it. After all that work and effort, you now realize how you should have done it. You realize what would have been a better goal or a better way to do it.

ICE & BEDS

For example, a guy in northern Sweden saw a future with the cold and snow. He combined the idea of ice with a hotel. He created a hotel made out of ice. Everything is made out of ice – the beds, walls, tables, etc. It is one of Sweden’s largest tourist attractions. He realized he could do something no one else could do. But it didn’t start with The Ice Hotel.

First, he had an idea to “sell” the winter. His first idea was to fly in some ice sculptures from Japan. He had an ice exhibition. It wasn’t successful because the ice melted.

Next, he tried a snow gallery and had paintings hung in an ice building.

Then he created an event hall with everything made out of ice, including a movie screen. A few backpackers who saw it said they would like to sleep on a bed made of ice. He made a bed of ice and they loved it.

Then he created The Ice Hotel. Within weeks Newsweek named it one of the ten coolest hotels in the world.

MGMT 561 Assignment #3 Reflection CUNHA 01.pngSource: Frans Johansson: The Secret Truth About Executing Great Ideas

CONCLUSION

You have to start with an idea – a step.

Take your first step to change the world. The best way to come up with this idea is at the intersection of different cultures and ideas.  Figure out something you can do and make it happen. The world is connected – there is somebody making those connections and it should be YOU!

MGMT 561 Assignment #3 Reflection CUNHA 02.pngSource: Frans Johansson: The Secret Truth About Executing Great Ideas

MGMT 561 Assignment #3 Reflection CUNHA 03.pngSource: The Medici Effect

MGMT 561 Assignment #3 Reflection CUNHA 04.pngSource: The Medici Effect

References & Sources:

Frans Johansson Keynote #ILTA12 David Hobbie

Frans Johansson: The Secret Truth About Executing Great Ideas

Frans Johansson Keynote #ILTA12 VMaryAbraham

How do people get more creative?

An Interview with Frans Johansson: The Medici Effect

Frans Johansson: The Secret Truth About Executing Great Ideas 

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 Jeff Venezia, AIA of @DIGroupArch

Who is Jeff Venezia, AIA?

Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Virginia and has practiced in New Brunswick since 1981. He is presently a Principal Owner and President ofDIGroupArchitecture, a 32 person firm specializing in K-12 Education, Higher Ed, Senior Living and Healthcare. He heads the design and marketing efforts of the firm as well as the Academic Studio which includes K-12 and Higher Ed.

About the Firm

DIGroupArchitecture is a process-centric architecture and design firm. We work tirelessly with our clients to understand their priorities, evaluate the physical and budgetary constraints, and communicate potential options. As a result we create distinctive design solutions that help our clients achieve their vision, with unwavering attention to detail at every scale.

It is our unbiased approach to scale that helps us evolve in the changing climate of contemporary architecture. As many of our clients’ priorities have shifted away from ground-up architecture to renovations and adaptive reuse, our interiors studio has flourished and our graphic design studio has developed a diverse portfolio of projects in environmental graphics, signage and wayfinding, and brand identity.

80% of our business comes from repeat clients.They appreciate our “whatever it takes” approach and principal involvement at every level of every project. Our goal is to make every client a “legacy” client doing project after project and improving the experience of those who occupy the facilities we have created together as partners.

         Memorial Elementary School

         Phillipsburg High School

         Remsen Ave. Firehouse

         Jonathan Dayton High School Media Center

 

Click to Follow the DIGroup: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?     

I’ve wanted to be an architect since I was about 12 years old.  I loved model building, drawing and construction and just knew from that time on what I wanted to be.

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?

I think the biggest challenge has always been living up to the level of trust your clients place on you to deliver a project that meets or exceeds their expectations.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?  

Most clients are memorable in their own way.  Since a lot of our work is for repeat clients we get to know them extremely well over time, both professionally and personally.  The best highlights of any of our projects is the reaction of the end users as to how we’ve improved the quality of their everyday lives.  That occurs most often in our Healthcare, K-12, Senior Living and Community Rooms projects.  One of our top highlights was having our Memorial Elementary School in East Brunswick receive the 2013 AIA New Jersey Honor Award for Excellence in Design, the first NJ public school to be recognized with that award (see photos above).

How do Architects measure success?     

We measure success by how a project meets the goals established in the very beginning, especially with regard to program, design, budget and schedule.

Good design does not have to cost more – it requires patience and commitment to doing it right.

Grow the business, develop a transition of ownership strategy, continue to focus on improving our architectural, interior and graphic capabilities.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?  

Unquestionably Alvar Aalto.  I love the way his buildings embrace the landscape and often look to him for inspiration.

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

My favorite historic building would be the Pantheon in Rome.  Favorite contemporary – the Kimball Art Museum in Texas by Louis Kahn.

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

We need to reverse the trend of being considered by the public as a commodity.  We need to educate the public and our clients on the value added in what we provide in the services we perform.  We are not copy or toilet paper. 

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?      

The greatest influence on my design work was my 3rd year architecture professor who demanded only the highest quality work from me and forced me out of my comfort zone to continually strive to learn from every project, to grow and become better as an architect.

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

Airport – I love the idea of doing something at that scale.

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

A National Geographic photographer.

 What advice do you have for a future Executive leader?     

Always be true to yourself, treat people fairly and conduct yourself with the highest level of integrity.  Your word should be your bond.

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

Challenges:  the economy, dealing with diversity in the work place and the ever-increasing reliance on technology.  As mentioned above, the competition and lowering of fees continue on a downward spiral.

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

Don’t just adapt to change – embrace it.

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?     

Take risks and have the commitment to see them through.  Be a good listener.  Show a concern and appreciation for your employees.  Be proactive in solving problems.  Never let anything fester.  Once the attorneys get involved no one is happy with the outcome.

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


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