Balancing Bulletproof Security and Design

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 Coen+Partners


architects resource kit

Back to Blog