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Heather N. Grimmer
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Have her in circles
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Heather N. Grimmer

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I'm starting a new research paper: Architectural design responses to increased desires for implementation of revised security measures in new/exising private and public designs and their respective sectors. (non-governmental facilities.)

While relaxing, I was throwing around ideas in my head about the general need for architects/designers to implement design change in response to needs for improved security measures in the public and private sectors. As I envisioned the topic in my head, I was breaking down the tactical nature/ability for designs that can possibly hinder the progression of tragedies of the likes of Columbine, and similar scenarios for which emergency responders and law enforcement train for. I wondered if hindering line of sight would decrease one's ability to open fire on innocent civilians, or if the designed decrease in the line of sight would rather decrease the ability of first responders and law enforcement to effectively stop the given tragedy from continuing.

Other questions came to mind as well...
In designs that can lock down, compartmentalize, and segregate portions of a building, floor plan, or area, tragedy could definitely be contained and localized to a specific area... however, by having the ability to lock down sections of any environment, are we making conscious decisions in sacrificing the innocent trapped in those areas as well. What fundamental moral obligations, as designers, do we have to the occupants who will live, work, and play in our designed spaces?

Looking from other perspectives on tragedy and needs for design change responses.. aside from how to respond to, and mitigate mass tragedy through design... vs increase first responders effectiveness, how would our design changes effect the every day inhabitant responses of those who use those same spaces every day. Would compartmentalized spaces inhibit social collaboration and social unity? Is there a way to design spaces that increase social community yet inhibit tragedy when such events occur, yet maintain a way for fast responses by emergency personal when required?

My relaxing time is typically a jumble of such wonders, and often motivate me into doing small research projects into such things.

When Monday's events in Boston occurred, I like others, wondered how could such a devastation have happened? I wished I were there to help.. my mind then filled with even more questions, and wonders. The question of how the bombs were placed in a location where security was at it's tightest, has been passed around in social media, and it only reinforced my curiosity over how design responds to the need of increased public safety. How indeed had the bombs been able to successfully detonate? Are there needs not only in environmental design change responses, but in event management work flows as well? How also do peripheral security measures get implemented into, and work within designed environments?

Tragedy should be the last place where we reach to learn from our mistakes, or that we need design change, at the same time, these horrible events are forefront reflections of the societies we each as contributing individuals have helped to create/shape, and reflect and define the times we now live in. We lock down our schools, we implement metal detectors in our courts, airports, and handfuls of governmental facilities... Do we fear ourselves into compartmentalized segments of social interaction whereby isolating ourselves from mass positive influences, that our communities could produce and foster? This question was one born from my intrigue over the design models of my own high school as aposed to that of the sister high schools in my school district. My high school was a 1970s progressive open floor layout. A floor plan with minimal use of walls. Walls which were delegated to use as the enveloping structural exterior, and dividers in personal safety and privacy, ie around bathrooms, the gym, pool, stairwells etc. Essentialy it looked like an office building, and lockers and dividers used likewise to create space boundaries. This layout afforded every classroom to be visible by every surrounding classroom within proximity. This allowed every classroom to have with it, not one teacher, but a group of teachers all visible and viewing of that area of that portion of the school, wherever that portion was. As such, students didn't have hall passes, like used in sister schools. TeacherS always had visibility of students wherever students "roamed." Not to say we students didn't have our share of juvenile mischief, but compared to our sister schools we/my high school always seemed to get the kids thrown out of the other high schools because our school notoriously and naturally by design, mitigated the desire for rebel raising and mahem making. (The all watchful eyes?) Sense of community was fostered, to an extent wall flowers may have not desired, but as well included. This brings me back to the question, does increased segregated spaces birth segregation of "sense of community"? Does the division of the sense of community, influence/strengthen discord and dissent? Are there ways to maintain and foster sense of community while addressing/implementing design change in response to needs for improved security measures in the public and private sectors?

I hope to begin work on the underlying fundamentals and principles behind these questions I have. I hope as well, to produce a full paper/essay or possibly even a book including all the research. I hope such questions will inspire contemplation over change and effect in the designs we create in our current built environments.

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