HIGHER EDUCATION

College campuses pose special challenges to bullet proof system designers and installers. Campus buildings are high-traffic locations expected to serve many purposes around the clock. A single campus likely has buildings constructed in a variety of styles over the course of decades, using different techniques and in compliance with different building codes.

Bringing together old and new buildings.

Time and again, our experience with projects in higher education settings has proven them to be complex. On one end of the spectrum are campus stores, admissions offices, cashiers, and credit unions. Fortunately, these are often newly constructed facilities built to modern building codes. Because they use standard doors, windows, stud-walls, and fixtures, these spaces lend themselves more easily to being adapted to bullet proof security. But they also pose the challenges familiar from other retail applications, like gas stations and convenience stores: These campus offices and stores see lots of foot-traffic every day, and must be prepared to handle deliveries without a hassle. They place a premium on speedy transactions, and demand hassle-free communication between staff and visitors.

But most college campuses are not dominated by newly constructed buildings. The vast majority treasure their historic structures, renovating and expanding them over and over again as their programs grow and evolve. This mix of building materials and styles, as well as cobbled-together electrical and heating/cooling systems, can pose challenges for even the most savvy bullet proof company. Historically, floors and walls have not always been built perfectly square and level–and a century of daily use, annual modification, and structural settling doesn’t help. Architects designed high ceilings and open spaces in order to achieve both aesthetic and practical effects; closing off a portion of a hall with bullet resistant acrylic may not have much of a visual impact, but it can wreck havoc on the climate control systems.

Maintaining traditional aesthetics.

Above and beyond the simple structural concerns, are the aesthetic needs of the institution: Colleges and universities haven’t gone to the trouble of maintaining their historic buildings in order to incase them in acrylic and cover them with fiberglass. A good design balances functional, aesthetic, and security concerns, keeping students, faculty, staff, and visitors safe without hindering them, and without marring the campus’s beauty.