Security Design Coalition Convened

Design Professionals, Stakeholders to Promote New Guidelines for Securing Public Spaces


WASHINGTON, D.C. - On October 11, 2001, the American Society of Landscape Architects assembled the newly formed Security Design Coalition. The purpose of the coalition is to promote the best security designs necessary to protect people and their public places. 

"As Americans remain on high alert for a wide range of real and perceived threats, the need for new approaches to public security has become apparent," said Rodney Swink, ASLA president. The coalition will advocate for the implementation of security measures in public places that incorporate good design principles, using the National Capital region as a model.

"Done well, security measures protect people and property, while clearly demonstrating that this nation continues to rest on a close relationship between its people and its government. Done poorly, security will make citizens fearful and erect literal barriers to the public's interaction with the government it has established," Swink commented. 

GOOD DESIGN: Library Square, Los Angeles by Lawrence Halprin, FASLA. The way users are brought into a public space is often the most important security measure taken. Library Square provides a streamlined approach with varying elevations and a structural fountain, elements that control traffic and impede assaults.

"It's clear that security needs to be heightened," said Bob Peck, president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. "But we need not add to public alarm nor diminish our values in the way we respond to the threat. We should not place off limits or render inhospitable the public places that connect us to our government institutions, and remind us of our history and our democratic heritage. We must protect ourselves and stand proudly at the same time."

Members of the Security Design Coalition include the American Institute of Architects, the American Planning Association, Scenic America, and the Greater Washington Board of Trade. These design professionals and community leaders are charged with developing and promoting comprehensive guidelines for creating secure and approachable public spaces.

According to Jeff Soule, policy director for the American Planning Association, "As design professionals and as those who revere the symbolic statements our country makes through its buildings and public places, we have an obligation to protect the defining characteristics of America that these areas represent. These places must remain accessible to the people."

In the wake of the most recent acts of terror, the federal establishment moved swiftly to install significant security devices to thwart terrorist acts against people and the places they occupy. Concrete and wire barriers, street closings, surveillance, new search procedures - measures channel and restrict personal movement - have either been strengthened or established in recent weeks. These rapid and dramatic actions are fully understandable in the context of the immediate threat. However, if these restrictions and barriers become permanent fixtures, Americans could lose their sense of heritage and connection to their environment, and a sense of place.

RAPID RESPONSE: Washington Monument, The National Mall, D.C. Concrete jersey barriers haphazardly ring the memorial in an attempt to prevent a vehicular attack. The temporary security station at the base of the monument scans visits for weapons before they enter. Permanent, attractive design solutions that address the concerns are the goal of the Security Design Coalition.

Design professions, preservationists, communities, and security professionals are committed to working together through the Security Design Coalition to promote design principles that balance security measures with the need to maintain an open society. The Coalition also seeks to recommend an inclusive decision-making process, consisting of experts in the fields of security, landscape architecture, architecture, historic preservation, and community planning, for determining what security for the National Capital region will look like and how it will function.

The coalition plans to present its findings to several government agencies, including the Office for Homeland Security, the General Services Administration, and the National Park Service. For more information about the  Security Design Coalition   and designing safe environments, see the contacts below. 

Founded in 1899, the American Society of Landscape Architects is the professional association representing landscape architects nationwide.


Karen T. Grajales
Manager, Public Relations 
tel: 1-202-216-2371