When designing or renovating a student housing facility, square footage, number of occupants and budget are often top design considerations. Designing for student safety ranks even higher, say the experts at KWK Architects.
“Protecting students from intruders and dangerous individuals is always top of mind, and frequently discussed during the design process for any student housing project that KWK Architects is involved with,” said KWK Principal Javier Esteban, AIA, LEED AP. “There are several common safety strategies that we as architects always strive to implement in any design. Sophisticated new technologies are adding a valued extra layer of safety to traditional designs.”
According to Esteban, the safety and security industry is moving toward more personalized security systems where a user’s data resides directly on access cards to gain entry to student housing facilities, and fingerprinting or other biometric processes are being used to access secure areas. The new generation of security cameras also provide higher definition images at lower lighting levels, with the ability to cover much wider angles, creating a very strong, multi-layered security system.
“The prices of these sophisticated devices are coming down and will soon be affordable for many universities,” said Esteban. “The level of sophistication of new access control system technology can provide almost instantaneous data on what key was used and when the entry was accessed and locked, and could also provide control of locking from the outside via a website in cases of wired electronic door hardware. This technology can also provide a vital tool for forensic examination should a security breach occur.”
Additional ways high-tech safety technology is being incorporated into student housing design include:
Esteban says traditional design theories that incorporate basic layers of security and the human element on site, throughout the building, and in individual units should still apply in today’s student housing designs and complement the use of technology. These include:
“In the end, when it comes to designing for security, the good guys must always have it right, but the bad guys only need to breach these systems once. Despite all the new, more advanced technologies available, having the right human behind or in front of this technology makes all the difference,” said Esteban.