The Next Wave in Office Security


The recent events in Paris have made office security a topic of discussion both in the United States and abroad. Some workplaces, such as banks and federal buildings, had a high level of security even before the events of 9/11. But when two Islamist gunmen forced their way into the office of a French satirical weekly, killing 12 people and wounding 11, earlier this month, it underscored how workplace security should be a concern for all commercial tenants and landlords.

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Over the years, Spector Group has worked on a variety of projects where security was woven into the design. For Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services in Brooklyn, we retrofitted an industrial factory into a fine art, antiques and collectibles storage building. The security measured we employed included infrared video cameras, motion-activated monitors, biometric identification and other safety measures. We optimized these controls by studying traffic patterns and designing clear sight lines, much as we do with banks, which help security staff better do their jobs

Our design for NASDAQ OMX similarly featured what’s called “known security,” or systems that are visible both to those who work in or visit the space. But not every tenant wants such measures in plain sight. Luxury retailers and casinos, for instance, often prefer that security cameras remain hidden, to allow for a more relaxed atmosphere.

Landlords and tenants in other industries can also benefit from security planning. By consulting with architects early on, during the pre-lease negotiations and programming phase, parties can raise important questions, like: Does the building’s security system support my needs? What logistics are already in place? Would additional lighting or a change in layout make the space safer? Can we install technology controls?

While more robust security measures remain the province of banks or auction houses, where valuable loot is stored, a turnstile or a front desk with a guard is an easy first step towards creating a safer workplace. And hidden cameras can help a landlord or employer know who’s coming in and out of their building every day.

To figure out what sort of security is right for you, consult a team of professionals, ideally early on in the design stage. With a bit of planning, you can create a workplace that’s both inviting and secure.

Scott E. Spector, AIA, is a principal at Spector Group, one of New York’s premier architecture and interior design firms and a leader in corporate tenant and building owner-based design. The award-winning company has affiliate offices nationally and internationally. To date, it has completed more than 2,000 projects.