Good Design: It's Academic

Our Editor talked with Ron Baer, Director of Business Development/K-12 and with Jeremy Saline, Director of Business Development/University, both with ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions. The following was excerpted from their conversation. 

E:     Hey, Guys! Let’s talk a bit about Good Design in K-12 and Higher Ed environments. As a nation, we’ve responded to tragic events on school and university campuses with physical security enhancements that allow us to better protect students, faculty and facilities. We’re building “resilient” structures with storm shelters to mitigate the loss of life and property caused by hurricanes and tornadoes. What else is top-of-mind for School and University administrators and faculty, and for their design and construction teams? 

R:    Indeed. K-12 door and hardware solutions that secure perimeters, provide emergency egress and lockdown capabilities, and offer blast/ballistic and hurricane/tornado resilience are among our highest priorities, Sandy.

J:     Absolutely. And in dynamic University environments, our goal is to provide students and faculty with both the access and the protection they need, no matter the function of the space. 

E:    Tell me more, my Friend.

J:    Well, the security and access control required for a residence hall will probably differ from that required for a chemical laboratory, right? The same people might require access, but attributes for securing the door openings will vary. 

E:    Right. One size doesn’t fit all.

J:    Exactly! So we work with our Universities to deploy a variety of appropriate access control solutions to meet their specific security needs and budgets. We call it “Scalable Security,” and in a single campus environment, it can include everything from a mechanical cylinder, to an integrated Wiegand access control device. It can involve multiple credentials with or without audit capabilities, and can require that we leverage existing network infrastructures to integrate technologies. 

Modern campuses with beautiful facilities have a very favorable impact on enrollment.

R.     And in K-12 schools, unique life safety and security solutions are deployed based on the type of school, the design of a school and classrooms, and the nature of the functional space involved. So, for example, perimeter and access control solutions for an auditorium in an Elementary School with open/pod classrooms, would look very different than the perimeter and access control solutions deployed for a library in a High School on a campus. It all starts with an exploratory discussion and a detailed site assessment. Make sense?

E:    Totally. Boy, you guys are good. What else have you got? 

R:    Well, acoustically controlled door opening solutions are top-of-mind for band or choir rooms, and for libraries, classrooms and conference areas…

J:    …and there’s been A LOT of interest from our schools and their design and construction professionals, in the use of building products with recycled and sustainably sourced materials that contribute to energy efficiency, healthy air quality, and have superior aesthetic attributes. 

E:     “Superior aesthetic attributes!” Now we’re talking my language. It’s my understanding that the same evidence-based design principles that are dramatically improving patient outcomes in healthcare facilities, are increasingly influencing school design and improving academic performance. Do you guys agree?

R:     You bet, Sandy. The physical characteristics of academic environments are credited with improved student attendance, reduced behavior and disciplinary problems, and lower faculty attrition. Aesthetics make a difference.

J:    And I don’t think you can underestimate the impact of aesthetics on University enrollment. Universities compete for enrollment. Modern campuses with beautiful facilities have a very favorable impact on enrollment…and vice versa. Take residence halls, for example. When we went to college, dorm rooms were reminiscent of shoeboxes, without the charm.

E:    (Laughs) That’s why I joined a sorority! I couldn’t get out of that dormitory fast enough! 

J:    (Laughs) Well, you probably wouldn’t have that problem today. Student accommodations are modern, comfortable, quiet, and secure. Our decorative door and hardware solutions are durable, sustainable, beautiful, and absolutely ideal for residence halls and other University spaces. 

E:    Well said! And a great place to wrap our interview. Thanks so much for all you do, guys. I wish every parent, student, educator and school administrator could witness, first-hand, your passion, dedication and commitment. You’re really making a difference out there.