Because bullet resistant transaction windows are pre-fabricated, designers often treat them like a fire door or light fixture: a one-size-fits-all, take-it-or-leave-it solution. But in order to end up with a useable and secure facility, designers need to understand the challenges that come with ballistic security, and the array of solutions bullet proof companies have at hand to meet these challenges.
THE RIGHT TRANSACTION WINDOW FOR CLEAR COMMUNICATION
Total Security Solutions vice president Jim Richards recalls a set of transaction windows Total Security Solutions fabricated for Michigan State University’s Old College Fields sports complex. These were to serve as ticket windows, and as is often the case with large institutions like universities, Total Security Solutions was dealing not with the university itself, but with a contractor hired to redesign the complex’s concessions. Working from the contractor’s specifications, Jim’s team produced a series of windows that looked beautiful and seamlessly meshed with the complex’s new look and feel. Everyone seemed happy.
“A few months later, I just happened to take my kids to an MSU soccer game at the College Fields,” Jim explains, “and we go up to buy tickets. The players were warming up, music was blaring, and you couldn’t hear a thing the ticket taker was saying. It was something that was never even considered: The PA speakers face those transaction windows, and natural voice communication was just never going to cut it there.”
Blunders like this aren’t that rare. On large construction jobs, there are usually several teams of contractors and sub-contractors, and few of these are in direct contact with the client. On top of that, it’s likely that the client plans to delegate actual operations to a facilities management company. In other words, the actual end users–that ticket taker and soccer fan growing frustrated as they attempt to yell through two inches of ballistic acrylic–are nowhere in the conversation. It’s vital that designers fully imagine how business is conducted in the space during regular operations. Strolling through he quiet facility after hours, taking measurements and making sketches, is going to lead to annoying design errors.
PRE-FABRICATED TRANSACTION WINDOWS ARE CUSTOMIZED
Even though transaction windows arrive as a ready-to-install drop-in unit, they’re still individually fabricated. Jim’s expectation is that each business and building will have specific needs, and his designers and fabricators are ready to meet those.
“It’s frustrating because a simple oversight like that really strains communication there; if the designer had thought to raise the concern, we easily could have worked around it.”