Bullet Proof Glass and Bullet Resistant Barriers | TSS Bulletproof http://www.tssbulletproof.com Wed, 27 Jul 2016 14:24:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Physical Security Features that Protect Data Centers http://www.tssbulletproof.com/physical-security-features-protect-data-centers/ Wed, 27 Jul 2016 14:17:56 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15010 [...]

data center servers with lights onEvery day there are hundreds of data security breaches exposing millions of records of personal and corporate data to cybercriminals. No organization is immune from these attacks. Government agencies( the IRS and NSA) Healthcare giants (Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Anthem) and large corporations (Target and Home Depot) have all been successfully hacked in the past few years.

Last spring it was reported that the Office of Personnel Management (responsible for managing human resources for the federal government) suffered two separate security breaches that compromised the personal information of over 20 million people. These combined incidents are considered to be one of the biggest cyberattacks in history.

So what is being done to protect us from cyber criminals? IT professionals tend to focus on security features like cryptographic keys and digital certificates. But physical security features are equally important. The first line of defense in protecting software and data is concrete, steel and bulletproof glass.

Most commonly used physical security for data centers

Security features that protect the data center against physical intrusion and disaster can be divided into three categories:

External crime protection:

  • Chosen locations that are not easily seen from the street
  • Limited access to the building including gates and fences
  • Single point of entry
  • External video surveillance
  • Intrusion detection and alarm systems

Internal crime protection:

Natural or man-made disaster protection:

  • Redundant utilities (such as electric)
  • Air filtration systems
  • Temperature controls
  • Back up batteries to support HVAC and other essential systems
  • Earthquake-proof cabinets and server cages
  • Fire suppression

Single Privileged Users Will Always Pose a Risk

Physical security can keep strangers out, but what about employees, vendors and other visitors with permission to access the data center? While all of them are typically put through background checks, nothing is failsafe. People making questionable decisions will always pose a risk. Single privileged user accounts can be hacked by internal personnel with intent to do harm, and that can bring down an entire data center.

Next Steps:

Make or Break Project

Peace-of-Mind for Rural Utility Offices http://www.tssbulletproof.com/peace-of-mind-rural-utility-offices/ Wed, 20 Jul 2016 13:27:10 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15331 [...]

For Clark Energy—a regional utility cooperative serving 19,000 customers and maintaining 3,000 miles of line in 11 counties—it began when a customer attacked a worker at the nearby water utility office. As Holly S. Eades, vice president of finance for Clark Energy, explains, “There was a utility here in Winchester [Kentucky], and I had gone down there because we’d heard that one of their office people, a customer had slapped her in the head. And we were like, ‘Oh, boy.’ Because we have some customers that come in, and they get kind of irate.”

Worker Safety in Utility Offices

Workplace violence is a serious problem, with roughly 2 million American workers assaulted each year. Clerks and customer service reps at utility offices are especially at risk, as their work includes several of the high-risk factors identified by OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration): handling money, fielding disputes about billing, and denying delinquent customers service. As a rule, when you are forced to cut off someone’s electricity, water, cable TV, or other service, they are not happy, and they are not calm.

To Holly and her customer service reps at Clark Energy, it very much felt like just a matter of time: “Sometimes, [in] both [our] offices, there’ll be just one office lady there. The men are out in the field, and she’s just completely by herself. It wasn’t probably two, three weeks later . . . some man comes in and he’s cussing and screaming, and another customer actually stayed, saying ‘There wasn’t a way I’m leaving with this person acting like that.’ When a big man is standing at the counter, screaming and cussing at a female customer service rep who’s five-foot-four, there’s something wrong with him . . . You just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Inviting, Professional Bullet Proof Barriers

Utility Office Bullet Resistant Barrier

Utility Office Bullet Resistant Barrier

Utility Office Bullet Resistant Barrier

Many utility companies and service providers worry that added security will both bog down business and give the customers the impression that workers are trying to separate themselves from their clientele.

Even Clark Energy had hesitated, despite harrowing first-hand experiences. “A lot of it was the way it needed to look. . . . We’d actually tried to get somebody local [to install a bullet resistant barrier], but we couldn’t find anybody in this area that would even come close to the product that Total Security Solutions has. Not as pleasing. . . . I think a lot of times, when you put that up [a security barrier], customers get the feeling that you’re trying to shield yourself, and I don’t mean from robbers.”

Jim Richards, Total Security Solutions CEO, has heard this often. “What we actually do and what everyone’s perception is are two totally different things. The people at Clark Energy were more than ecstatic when they saw the other utility offices we’ve done, because it’s not what people typically visualize when they think of bullet proof glass. They think of steel frames, big, thick glass, you can’t talk through it. It’s not aesthetically pleasing. It gets in the way of getting work done. But when they saw what we did at the other utility, it’s like ‘Oh, well we want one of those, too, if that’s what it’s gonna look like.'”

Positive Results with a Well-Designed Bullet Proof System

“We are tickled to death,” Holly says, “It looks very nice, and when the customers came in . . . We had some customers saying, ‘You know, y’all should have done that a long time ago.'”

While Holly is gratified to hear these positive responses from customers, she’s even more pleased by the improvement to her employees’ work day:

“It’s really amazing, just the sense of security the girls feel. You know, now you get there and you’ve got somebody screaming at you, and there’s some distance between you and their emotions. When you’re turning people’s electric off, you just don’t know. You have ’em come in pretty upset. This felt 10 times better, at least knowing the girls are behind locked doors and behind bullet resistant glass. Because, I tell you, every day all you hear about is another incident somewhere.”

Clark Energy Utility Office Bullet Resistant Barrier

Clark Energy Utility Office

More on Enhanced Security for Utility Offices

For the whole story, download our free case study on the Clark Energy utility office now.

Next Steps:

Ideal Bullet Proof Barrier Systems for Utility Offices http://www.tssbulletproof.com/ideal-bullet-proof-barrier-systems-utility-offices/ Wed, 13 Jul 2016 11:37:28 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15338 [...]

Clark Energy Utility Office Bullet Resistant Barrier

Every day, between 5,500 and 7,600 Americans are victims of workplace violence. Among the workers most at-risk according to OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) are those who interact directly with the public, handle cash or other payments, have to resolve complaints and disputes arising from overdue utility bills, or carry out enforcement duties (like cutting off a delinquent customer). This is a pretty spot-on description of the average work day for clerks and cashiers at utility payment offices of all types: gas, water, phone, cable, power, city and county clerks, and so on.

Consider this infamous two-minute video of what happened when a woman in Detroit was upset about her son’s phone:

That’s one clerk who was very glad to have a bullet resistant barrier between him and a less-than-satisfied customer.

Bullet Resistant Barrier Systems for Utility Offices

According to Total Security Solutions CEO Jim Richards, the incident captured in that video is par for the course in many utility offices. The news report chose to play it for laughs—focusing on indecent exposure, and quickly sailing past the fact that the woman had a knife and gouged at the case and barrier. “Unfortunately,” Total Security Solutions CEO Jim Richards notes, “what we’ve learned is that these kinds of incidents are rarely very funny. Especially for the people behind the counter.” To being with, more often than not the clerks are women working to support their families, and the irate customers tower over them. As one utility office manager explained to Total Security Solutions, “When a big man is standing at the counter, screaming and cussing at a female customer service rep who’s five-foot-four, there’s something wrong with him…You just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Over the past several decades, Total Security Solutions has worked with all sorts of utility and payment offices, designing, fabricating, and installing bullet resistant systems that mesh seamlessly both with their office aesthetic and their business needs.

“Typically,” Jim explains, “they need two or three transaction areas—similar to a small bank office—with deal trays for passing documents, and some reinforcement of the counters. All said, they generally don’t need much more than a Level 3 system. These can usually be installed overnight—so minimal disruption of business—and are well within the budget of any utility or service provider.”

Getting the Right Level of Protection for Your Utility Office

“The biggest challenge,” Jim notes, “is helping utility operators understand the level of protection they need.” Because of the sorts of extremely violent incidents that draw wide 24-hour news coverage, many a small payment and utility offices begin exploring bullet resistant systems with the assumption they need a barrier that will stop heavy assault weaponry.

As a result, they suffer tremendous sticker shock: Level 5 through 8 systems—designed to stop bursts from AK-47s, AR-15s, and other tactical rifles—are government-grade installs. The materials involved are very expensive and challenging to work with: Level 5 bullet proof glass is more than two inches thick, with each window weighing hundreds of pounds by itself. They require special framing pieces and reinforced walls and counters. It’s the sort of installation that protects the windows of the Oval Office.

And, in case it doesn’t go without saying, the local cable or water payment office doesn’t need that level of protection.

“Fortunately,” Jim explains, “most acts of violence don’t go further than what you see in that video: A really emotionally overwhelmed person yelling and damaging property. Maybe waving a weapon around. That said, if there’s an opportunity, it’s not at all uncommon for a person like this to get physical with an employee.” When a barrier is in place—as it was in the case of that Detroit cellphone office—the clerk has someplace to wait out the storm.

“We find that most utilities are very happy with a Level 3 system. In the unlikely event a disgruntled customer or employee comes in shooting, this will stop the most common calibers of bullets. In any case, it will offer excellent physical protection. More importantly, the barrier functions like psychological armor, shielding your staff from the emotional violence this individual is spewing.”

Next Steps:

Make or Break Project

Safety Glass Zoo Enclosures Keep Animals In and Humans Out http://www.tssbulletproof.com/safety-glass-zoo-enclosures-animals-humans/ Thu, 07 Jul 2016 15:53:10 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15523 [...]

A recent incident at the Cincinnati Zoo has raised many questions about zoo safety. A young boy was able to gain access to the gorilla exhibit and was dragged around for several minutes before the gorilla was shot. The boy survived with minor injuries. Regardless of events that led up to the child falling into the exhibit or how the situation was handled, there has been a general concern over the fact that a young child was able to relatively easily enter an area of the zoo intended to be off limits to the public.

Concrete walls and steel bar enclosures were once the norm, but as the demand for more natural environments and views of the animals has increased, the means of ensuring security has evolved. The use of physical barriers, such as fences and moats, are very common zoo safety measures intended to keep the animals in and people out. In more recent years, however, zoos have also turned to the use of safety glass, similar to bulletproof glass, to provide visitors an uninterrupted view of the animals and an even higher level of security.

Bullet-Resistant Glass Provides Uninterrupted Views and Increased Security

zooThe unprecedented closeness achieved between humans and the animals through safety glass, as well as the success of security provided by safety glass, has been documented in multiple videos that have gone viral over the past several years. In this video from the Tokyo Zoo, a small boy turns his back on a lion exhibit and within seconds, the lion charges toward the boy, slamming into the safety glass enclosure. While shaken by the experience, the boy is unharmed and the glass is intact. Even in this video of a gorilla cracking the glass at the Nebraska Zoo, the visitors were in no immediate danger. Similar to the laminated glass used on the popular glass-bottom bridges, a single pane of glass can shatter while maintaining the structural integrity of the overall sheet of glass.

While zoos take necessary precautions to protect visitors, from the implementation of physical barriers to regularly performed safety drills, it is equally as important for parents to diligently watch their children and themselves around the animals. They are still wild animals with unpredictable behavior and should be respected as such.

Photo courtesy of www.youtube.com


Bulletproof Glass History

Bullet Resistant Barriers for Texas Banks http://www.tssbulletproof.com/bullet-resistant-barriers-texas-banks/ Wed, 29 Jun 2016 16:26:08 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15259 [...]

Texas state flag flown at capital buildingLast year Houston didn’t just lead the nation in commercial robberies (with 1,400 in 2015); it also saw a huge jump in “armed takeovers,” a crime nearly unique to Houston. As described by the Houston Chronicle’s Dane Schiller, armed takeovers are “particularly violent and terrifying, just a sneeze or a flinch away from turning tragic. Attackers put guns to the back of the heads of store managers or other employees, with hammers cocked as motivation to obey commands.”

In addition to being uncharacteristically traumatic robberies, armed takeovers are also uncharacteristically swift (under two minutes), and uncharacteristically successful: One such bank robbery nabbed $76,000, while another took over a quarter million dollars. By comparison, the average bank bandit usually gets away with less than $5,000.

According to Total Security Solutions CEO Jim Richards, “We see these sorts of ‘evolutionary jumps’ in crimes in growth areas—the Carolinas, the Atlanta area, and especially Texas. Houston is very active for us right now.”

Everything is Bigger in Texas

What is happening in Houston? Are Texans, by nature, especially vicious?

Not at all.

It all comes down to population. The regions Jim named have some of the fastest growing populations in the United States. According to Forbes magazine, 5 of the 10 fastest growing U.S. cities are in Texas, with Houston being number one (up from second place in 2014).

“Typically,” Jim explains, “when you look at where the country is growing, the demand for bullet resistant barriers is growing as well. People spread out, businesses—especially financial services—pop up to serve them. Banks build more branch offices and put more in-store locations in place. It’s a simple fact of life: People commit crimes, so wherever people go, the crime goes with them.”

Texas has been no exception: In 2014, little Odessa, TX (population under 100,000) had the highest jump in violent crime in the nation. In 2015, even as violent crime rates across both the nation and Texas dropped, a Houstonian was murdered every 30 hours. According to the latest FBI statistics, 1,242 of 2015’s more than 4,000 bank robberies were in the “South” (as defined by the FBI, this region includes all the high-growth areas Jim named).

And most of those bank heists were in Texas. In a given year, Texas alone sees roughly as many bank branches, check cashers, and short-term loan businesses robbed as Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee combined. Year after year, Texas is second only to California in annual bank robberies. But, while California is continuing a steady decade-long decline in bank robberies, Texas appears to be ticking back up, with a 10% increase in bank robberies since 2014. If these trends continue, one could expect Texas to lead the nation in bank robberies by 2020.

Ballistic Barriers Deter Bank Robberies

TSS has found that, across the board, the presence of a bullet resistant barrier seems to deter attempted robberies. This matches sworn testimony from bank robbers, who specifically targeted banks without barriers. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting’s independent analysis of four years of FBI data, only about 10% of the banks targeted for robbery had bullet resistant barriers in place (meanwhile, every institution had Bank Protection Act mandated security systems, as well as security cameras). Of the barrier-enhanced banks that were robbed, only about three percent of those robberies turned violent. Compare this to banks with armed guards: 12.9% of the robberies in such banks turned violent, and injury rates soared among both staff and customers during those violent incidents.

According to award-winning investigative reporter Ronald Kessler, “FBI agents say that banks with Plexiglas or bulletproof glass barriers between tellers and customers are held up far less than are banks with open spaces between tellers and customers.” One FBI agent explained to Kessler: “The [banks] that have bandit barriers are robbed much less. It’s night and day. Every now and then you have someone who slaps a note against the plexiglass. Usually the teller crouches behind the counter, and that’s the end of it.”

This has likewise been Jim’s experience: “Not that the teller hides behind the counter—I’ve never heard of that—but it certainly seems like potential thieves imagine that sort of scenario: Even when a location has suffered multiple robberies, once that bandit barrier is in place, there is not a recurrence. Robbed of the ability to use brute violence, bank robbers just are not that bold.”


Make or Break Project

More Police Stations Offering Locations for Safe Internet Trades http://www.tssbulletproof.com/police-stations-offering-locations-safe-internet-trades/ Wed, 22 Jun 2016 23:37:09 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15207 [...]

8489846881_7b74c705a9_bWhile summer garage sales are alive and well, many people prefer the convenience of selling their outgrown baby strollers and old gym equipment in online marketplaces. Every day, thousands buy, sell and trade via sites like Craig’sList, Facebook, eBay, EPage, and ClassifiedsGiant. Most of the time, it’s uneventful. However, there is a darker side of internet shopping that tells of the danger of doing business with strangers.

While is may seem obvious to those who’ve had a bad experience, you might be surprised to know that:

  • Hundreds of people are robbed, beaten or killed each year during exchanges
  • Even public places (like Walmart parking lots and gas stations) are not 100% safe

What is a Safe Trade Zone or Internet Exchange Location?

A safe trade zone or internet exchange location is a place where online buyers and sellers meet, usually located in a police station parking lot. Lately, more local police departments are providing this easy, low cost solution to a common problem.

The idea of meeting in the police parking lot for the added safety is not a new one. Many divorced couples having been meeting in police lots for years for child exchanges, or to review custody schedules and other documents.

Typically there are:

  • 24 hour surveillance cameras to monitor the parking lot
  • Set hours during which transactions should take place
  • No guns, illegal or legal drugs allowed
  • Police officers just steps away

Where Can I Find a Safe Trade Zone Near Me?

Do an online search for “Safe Trade Zones near me” or “Where can I find an Internet Exchange Location” and look for local police stations that provide these. You can also visit the Safe Trade program website and look up your home state.

The Safe Trade program began in 2015 and is open to all police departments and LEO organizations. It helps users of online classifieds trade safely, and there is no cost to the stations that choose to use it.

What if I can’t meet up at a Safe Trade Zone?

The Safe Trade program recognizes that selling large furniture or a play structure might not be practical in the police station parking lot. If you can’t meet there, Safe Trade recommends:

  • Meet at a police station where you can exchange and photocopy each other’s’ identification papers, such as a driver’s license. Do NOT carry cash to this location.
  • Photocopy the license or identification paper, or use your phone to photograph it.
  • Email the ID information to a friend, or to someone trusted (not to yourself).
  • If you’re selling at home, or going to someone’s home, never be outnumbered. If you’re at home, make sure you have two or three people there — and tell the person who is coming that you will have others with you. There’s some safety in numbers.
  • At home or an apartment, NEVER let someone go anywhere unaccompanied. Not even to the bathroom. Always make sure they are escorted.
  • Never let more than one group come to your home at one time to buy or sell

No matter where you make a trade or sale,  it is never a good idea to make it obvious that you are carrying a large sum of cash, and you should make certain that when you leave you are not being followed.

Next Steps:

Ballistic Door Checklist

Bandit Barriers and Relationship Banking http://www.tssbulletproof.com/bandit-barriers-relationship-banking/ Wed, 15 Jun 2016 19:17:37 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15261 [...]

According to Don S. Tokunaga, former vice chairman for security and risk management for the American Bankers Association, “There’s no doubt that banks that have bandit barriers have fewer robberies.” Nonetheless, Tokunaga notes, banks often shy away from installing bullet resistant security systems. Sometimes this is a matter of cost, but more often because the bank fears losing that “open look” and putting a damper on their relationships with customers.

“We understand this reluctance,” Total Security Solutions CEO Jim Richards says, “in retail banking, tellers are sellers. Building on their relationship with a customer is key. That’s why we’ve developed open, airy, bullet resistant systems that preserve clear communication. Security barriers should never create business barriers.”

Bullet Resistant Barriers that Don’t Create Barriers

Banks reasonably worry that adding a bandit barrier will inhibit the one-on-one contact between teller and customer, or otherwise stifle the customer experience. “This is a key concern during the planning stage, every time. But what we hear from banking clients, once the system is in place, is that it spruces up the appearance. Because the glass is clear, with large unobstructed panes, it really brightens up the space. Because we pay so much attention to maintaining crystal clear voice transmission, the barrier will not muffle voices or feel obtrusive. Clear eye contact, easy conversation: These are really key to forming those important relationships of trust.”

TSS’s bullet resistant baffle and arch window systems are popular with banks. These rely on thick sheets of acrylic, which can be flush-mounted with minimal framing, creating broad, clear sight lines. Acrylic is rigid, and has excellent light transmission (greater than 90%). Flame polishing the edges preserves this transparency, so that seams and edges almost disappear. Because TSS fabricates to exceedingly tight tolerances, we can eliminate the thick framing pieces that older systems relied on, and which tended to draw attention to the sheets of bullet proof acrylic. The result is the sort of custom system you see below, which keeps the focus on the customer and the teller, not the counter and barrier.

Banking Bandit Barrier Arch Windows

Some smaller settings—like in-store bank branches located in grocery stores—might prefer something like the Natural Voice Transmission (NVR) transaction window shown below. This set-in-place solution uses a specialized framing system to allow for easy communication through a totally solid barrier, with no metal talk-thru plate or intercom system coming between the customer and bank staff:

A Small Investment in Peace-of-Mind

Financial service businesses are often relieved to discover that a bandit barrier need not be as large an investment as they suspected. In part, many banks initially overestimate what their barrier will cost because they spec out “too much barrier” for their needs. As we’ve mentioned in the past, it is almost certainly the case that you don’t need to worry about stopping an AK-47. For most banking customers, a Level 1 or 2 system (which stops many bullets fired from a wide range of common handguns) will be more than sufficient.

“Well designed bandit barriers are such powerful deterrents,” Total Security Solutions Sales Manager Bob George explains. “These criminals are not planning to stick around and shoot up the place. They don’t want to get caught, and so they don’t want to come into a space where there is some question about ‘who’s in charge.’ It’s the path of least resistance: They are going to go down the street, and scope out the place that doesn’t have a barrier system. They aren’t going to hawk a place that has a ballistic system in it.”

Bob George has worked with many banking and financial service locations throughout the United States, and often finds that worry about security is significant among branch employees. “I did a handful of credit unions in Alabama a couple years ago. They had these two branches that just kept getting hit, over and over again. And these poor women were just frightened to come to work. I remember when I was down there, measuring for the job, and I met one of them: she was so frazzled, and then so happy that a barrier was coming into their branch. The psychological toll that the threat of violence has on people, it’s really hard to overestimate how much that costs.”


Make or Break Project

Balancing Bulletproof Security and Design http://www.tssbulletproof.com/balancing-bulletproof-security-design/ Wed, 08 Jun 2016 20:13:58 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15253 [...]

U.S. Land Port of Entry in Van Buren, Maine There is a recurring theme in the design and integration of bulletproof barriers into banks, schools and municipal buildings – the art of striking a fine balance between form and function, creating both a warm, inviting environment that is physically secure. In some situations, it does make sense to install an over-the-top ballistic barrier that truly makes itself known. And for clients who want this approach, Total Security Solutions can certainly handle the job. But our specialty is focused more on custom installations, where beauty is as essential as security. We work with architects and designers to help realize their design vision while ensuring the security needs of the end user are met.

For most schools and government buildings, an over-the-top bulletproof barrier is not what is required. Individuals with a true need to enter the building should feel welcome to do so and children should not feel intimidated upon entering their school. A clean, minimalist approach to the integration of security features into a building’s design, however, does not insinuate a lack of security.

Bulletproof Security at U.S. Ports of Entry

There are more than 300 land, air, and sea ports of entry into the United States. Serving as a lawful means of entry into the US, these locations are used to check passports and search luggage to ensure that contraband is not imported. Passing through these checkpoints can often be stressful for individuals due to the high level of security and while properly securing a port of entry is imperative, the need to establish a warm, welcoming environment is equally as important.

Standing at the border between Maine and New Brunswick, Canada, the U.S. Land Port of Entry in Van Buren, Maine opened its doors in April 2013 and has since received many awards for striking the desired balance between form and function. While its design is not necessarily breakthrough and is even reminiscent of other federal buildings, it has been argued that subtle details make it feel transparent and even welcoming. Its design meets the requirements for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® Gold criteria and among other recognitions, it most recently received a 2016 AIA Honor Award.

Designed by Julie Snow Architects, the U.S. Land Port of Entry is described as fusing “an abstraction of the cultural and landscape context with concepts essential to port operations: surveillance and camouflage.” Making up a Z-shaped form from above, the buildings feature aluminum panels that alternate with silk-screened bullet-resistant glazing in a pattern meant to emulate the surrounding tree-lined environment. The use of a bold orange color on the interior walls serves to brighten the space, creating a warm, inviting atmosphere. The Van Buren, MN Port of Entry demonstrates how careful thought and seamless integration can ensure a building is both secure and aesthetically pleasing.

Photo courtesy of www.coenpartners.com


Make or Break Project

Securing the White House http://www.tssbulletproof.com/securing-white-house/ Wed, 01 Jun 2016 13:15:38 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15235 [...]

white house fence jumperSince construction completed on the White House in 1800, architectural renovations have been ongoing, from major construction projects such as the East and West Wings to less structural improvements such as the addition of a single-lane bowling alley or solar panels on the roof. While many of these renovations were undergone to expand the living and work spaces or personalize the décor, a growing need for security also warranted updates to the existing building and surrounding grounds. Even as recently as July 2015, a temporary solution of sharp metal spikes was added along the top of the fence encircling the White House to deter individuals from climbing. The fence itself was not original and while, since the time of Thomas Jefferson, some form of fence was utilized, public access to the White House grounds became much more restricted after World War II.

In the 1950s, during a massive reconstruction of the interior of the White House, a system of underground tunnels and bunkers was also built to enable the president and his staff a quick exit during an emergency situation. There is even a trap door underneath the desk in the Oval Office.

Retrofitting the White House with Bulletproof Glass

Though crews have never been seen replacing the exterior windows of the White House, a 2011 shooting incident confirmed the presence of bulletproof glass windows. Jim Richards, CEO of Total Security Solutions, has experience retrofitting ballistic glass in historic government buildings in and around Washington, DC and has found that backing existing windows with a second ballistic layer is almost the norm. “It’s probably the easiest thing to do when you’re going back through with a retro fit. A lot of times, with a historical building exterior, they want to keep that look, so instead of having to tear out glass, rebuild mullions, add structural members to support the added weight, it’s a lot easier to just lay in the transparency behind the existing windows.”

Access Control at the White House

Access control is another area in which the White House has cracked down on security. At one time, even as recent as the 1980s, it was not uncommon for 6,000+ visitors to make their way through the White House, creating a potential security threat. Tickets were in extremely high demand and were often sold by scalpers at a much higher price. After September 11, 2001, however, tours were suspended. While they have been reinstated for periods on and off since that time, to arrange a tour of the White House currently, you must work through a member of Congress and it can often take up to six months to gain access.

Photo courtesy of Fox6Now.com


Make or Break Project

Designing the White House http://www.tssbulletproof.com/designing-white-house/ Thu, 26 May 2016 15:40:09 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15232 [...]

Front view of The White House in springIn the early 1790s, an architectural design competition was held for what would become one of the most prestigious and widely recognized buildings in the United States: The White House. Although, it wouldn’t officially be known by this iconic name until 1901. A total of nine proposals were received, but President Washington selected the design of an Irish architect named James Hoban. Hoban’s original design was not deemed grand enough, however, so it was modified to be only two stories tall instead of three and widened from a 9-bay façade to 11 bays. Construction officially began in 1792 and lasted nearly eight years with John Adams listed as the first occupant. Total building cost in today’s terms was approximately $3.2 million.

Presidents Leave Their Mark on the White House

Over the years, the White House has undergone many architectural additions and modifications. Starting as early as 1801, plans were drawn up to add East and West Colonnades, which were intended to conceal the stables and domestic areas of the home, such as laundry. During the War of 1812, the White House was set on fire by British troops and what little remained when the fire was put out had to be torn down and rebuilt for structural integrity. Reconstruction lasted from 1815 to 1817 and Hoban continued to be involved in the design process. A south portico was added in 1824 followed by a north portico six years later. Renovations have continued as each president took office: a complete interior overhaul including gold leaf on the walls during Chester Arthur’s time in office, a fourth story attic during Coolidge’s administration, a second floor balcony for Truman and so on. The White House became the first wheelchair accessible government building when Franklin D Roosevelt took office.

Restoring the Historical Character of the White House

By 1948, the White House was in serious distress and there were fears of a potential collapse due to its original timber framework. A whopping $52 million in today’s currency (17 times the original construction cost) was invested at that time to essentially dismantle the entire interior, build a new load-bearing steel frame and then reconstruct the original rooms. Unfortunately, as a result of these extensive renovations, much of the original plasterwork was damaged and replaced with more generic furnishings. The original timber framework, however, was repurposed to panel the ground floor walls of many of the rooms in the main residence. In an effort to restore some of the original character that had been lost, Jacqueline Kennedy oversaw efforts to collect artifacts to decorate with, assigning each room a period theme.

Although some modifications continue to occur to the private residence area of the White House with each presidential turnover, proposed renovations to the State rooms must be approved by the Committee for the Preservation of the White House. Post-Kennedy renovations have included a bowling alley in the basement, solar water heating panels on the roof, additional wheelchair accessible ramps, as well as periodic décor updates/refurbishments throughout the various rooms.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Make or Break Project