PLANNERS AND HOMELAND SECURITY - Arizona ?· that a terrorist attack could have on buildings and the…

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


  • While most Arizona planners were enjoying the nat-ural beauties of Page at the annual chapter confer-ence last September, I was fortunate enough to havebeen invited to the Designing for a Secure FutureSymposium in New York City. Sponsored by APAand ASLA, it provided me with an opportunity tointeract with other design professionals, and to dis-cuss what can be done to design our cities more effi-ciently to respond to the potential for future terroristattacks. The two-day symposium focused on how todesign new developments, and retrofit older devel-opments in an effort to minimize the potential impactsthat a terrorist attack could have on buildings and theexisting urban environment.

    Much of the discussion focused on the necessary,but aesthetically disturbing, use of Jersey barriers todeal with terrorist attacks. A major topic of discussioncentered on Washington D.C., and the recent effortsthat were taken in order to make the city less sus-ceptible to terrorists. Washington D.C. has becomethe poster child for what a city should not do inorder to protect against terrorist attacks.

    Fortunately, the National Capital PlanningCommission has recently completed a study thataddresses this issue. The plan sets forth designguidelines that will help secure the city againstwide-scale emergencies and terrorist attacks, withoutcreating a fortress like environment for residents,employees, and visitors.

    GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATIONOne of the key players in the effort to design secure buildings has been the General ServicesAdministration (GSA). Following the bombing of theFederal Building in Oklahoma City, GSA has takenthe lead in designing new buildings that are defensi-ble relative to potential terrorist attacks. Most newfederal buildings have been specifically designed toprevent or minimize the impacts from a potential carbomb.

    Examples were cited from a number of new projectsthat have been designed and constructed since theOklahoma bombing, including the new federalcourthouse in Phoenix. I did have an opportunityduring my presentation to point out that the newcourthouse in Phoenix lacks context with the sur-

    FEBRUARY 2003


    Continued on page 2

    The first view of the World Trade Center site is the huge hole that remains after completion of removal of the debris. Thisshows construction activity as work continues on reconstructionof the rail line that connected/served the WTC from the westside of the Hudson River.

  • rounding downtown area, is not pedestrian friendly,and suffers from a lack of climate control in the atri-um during the hotter months of the year.

    Participants in the Symposium are provided a description ofthe site, impacts on adjacent buildings, and the potential forredevelopment of the WTC site.


    I was asked to specifically focus on changes thatplanners and other design professionals had madesince the attacks on 9/11. I had anticipated that mostplanners have not focused on how they couldimpact design to make future development less sus-ceptible to terrorist attacks. In most cases, I believethat planners feel they have no role to play inresponding and/or planning for a terrorist attack.However, to get a feel for what other planners werethinking, I conducted an informal survey using theAZPA listserve as contacts for the survey. Here are afew of the responses.


    We have not changed our technical requirements fordesign issues addressing public safety, however, wehave become more sensitive to these needs. Wehave very little tolerance to waive any standards.We have also noticed that we have fire and policereps at all our pre-application meetings. I believethere is more awareness from their teams to beinvolved whenever they can.


    I havent seen much of a change in design sinceSeptember 11. I have seen changes in security, i.e.

    we all have to wear badges now in Scottsdale. Onedesign change I have seen is in schools, particularlyelementary schools, but that is more related toColumbine and other local threats, and not specifi-cally against terrorists. I wonder if the idea of design-ing against an obscure threat is too hard to fathom,so we design to what we know, like the local robberor a Columbine situation.


    I work in a government building in downtownTucson. Following 911 a series of bollards (concrete-filled steel tubes), was erected in front of my buildingin the sidewalk area, presumably to prevent someonefrom driving into the front of the building. Based onthis and other observations, I would assume thatdesign professionals are, in fact, considering ways tomake buildings more terrorist-resistant.


    Definitely not something I have had to deal with inthe projects I am working on. Nothing more thanbasic safe design. Yes, design professionals can andshould play a role, because weve seen the anti-com-munity design that can result from a gut reaction.


    Not so for government agencies at least. And I guess Ineed to add federal to that. My firm is presentlydesigning several major federal government facilitiesand the added design requirements for both site andbuilding design are significant. We now have to hire ablast consultant to work with us for building setbacksand site orientation, as well as the design of the shellof the structure and material selection. We also nowhave to design the buildings against possible progres-sive collapse. I cant say what the private sector is do-ing, or for that matter, municipal and county agencies.


    I just returned from a review of military base optionsto security threats. In the planning for a site or build-ing the process of situating ingress and egress, com-pliance with codes and safety features are part of theprocess. As we unfortunately learned on 9/11 thereliability of safety features (stand pipes, stairways,even the entire structural building system) has beencalled into question.

    2 FEBRUARY 2003

    PLANNNERS AND HOME LAND SECURITY, Continued from page 1

    Continued on page 8

  • FEBRUARY 2003 3

    Well, here we are progressing into 2003. For manyof us, there are a lot of unknowns given the state ofthe economy. Local governments are watching thedirection the state takes, and of course, we are allkeeping our eyes on the national and global scene.Yet, despite the caution in the economy, new devel-opment is still continuing across this state. Privatesector planners are looking at creative ways to pro-vide quality developments at an economical price tothe client. Government planners are trying to keepthe zoning and permitting processes flowing in atimely manner despite personnel or budget cuts. Attimes like these, we can reflect on how all segmentsof the planning profession can make a difference inthe world (or at least in their sphere of influence).

    Over the last few months, I have reflected back onthe previous two recessions I lived through. I wasjust graduating with my planning degree in 1983while a recession was in process. It was definitely atough act getting a job then (so I feel for all the cur-rent graduates). However, I did land a drafting jobwith a private architecture firm fairly quickly. I hadto temporarily push aside my dreams of changingthe world with my great planning skills. Finally aplanning job came up, but I learned a lot doingarchitectural drafting that I have been able to usethrough the years. And then the recession of the late1980s hit this one not so generous to the planningand architecture profession. Firms were laying offlike crazy, and thats how I (with my two collegedegrees) ended up delivering pizza. I had spent a lotof time laying out subdivisions at the firms I workedfor. During my pizza delivery days, I gained some

    new insights on problems with subdivisions andaddressing. I would like to think I am a better plan-ner today because of this experience.

    There is a lot of you out there laughing as you readthis remembering your twists and turns during thesehard timesbut we made it. I hope this messagegives some hope to those of you just entering thework force in planning. Take advantage of the learn-ing opportunities from the side trips. And, as plan-ners never seem to retire, no one needs to worryabout that 401K having little value right now. Letsget out there and keep making a difference.

    There are a lot of activities that your State PlanningBoard will be involved in for 2003. The Legislatureis in session now, and even though the state budgetwill be the key issue we need to keep alert for otherlegislative activity in process. As Carol Johnsonmentioned in her last presidents message, there areguiding principles to be developed to promoteSmart Growth. We need to raise the recognition ofarid region issues so they become more prominentat the national level. Educational opportunitiesthrough the professional development program willcontinue. Please take advantage of these great learn-ing opportunities. February 11th, 2003 is AzPAs firstPlanners Day at the State Capitol. The annualconference is set for October.

    Keep providing input to the board, so that we canprovide the right services at the right time for themembership. Also, feel free to submit articles orinformation to Dean Brennan for the newsletters.



    Wouldnt you like to become a member of the board of directors for the Arizona Planning Association and helppromote the future of planning for the state? As population and development continue to expand in the state, it isof the utmost importance that we plan for this expansive growth. YOU are THEY and, in this capacity, we needYO