Seamless Security: Using design to enhance security and preserve the hospitality experience

By Jim Suggs Associate Vice President, CallisonRTKL | December 25, 2011

Co-authored by Todd Lundgren, AIA

August 2008: a car bomb explodes at a hotel in Bouira, Algeria. So began a rash of terrorist attacks at hotels around the world, which extended to July 2009. These attacks have taken many forms: car and truck bombs, suicide bombers, and bands of armed gunmen. In light of these events, as well as the recent unrest in the Middle East and northern Africa, both hoteliers and guests have become increasingly concerned with security. And this is a good thing if it inspires more hoteliers and their architects to consider security early in the planning phase of a new project or major renovation, when architects can develop a seamless, cost-effective design solution that reduces risks without a negative impact on the hospitality experience.

In many parts of the world, and Asia, hoteliers’ and guests’ security concerns are already heightened. And although the risks in North America are generally lower, the threat level and appropriate design solution depends on the density, surroundings, and patronage of the specific property. Even a low-level threat — primarily due to local crime, theft by employees, theft from guest rooms, intrusion of homeless persons, and high levels of foot traffic in the area — merits design solutions to mitigate the threat. That is why wise owners are thinking seriously about security when they undertake a new project or major renovation almost anywhere today.

Consider the following case study of a hypothetical hotel in a relatively dense urban environment, and design solutions that respond effectively to low, medium, and high threat levels.

Soft target, hard security?

Like any hotel, this will be a soft target, which literally invites the public inside. The owners want it to be sited and designed to be easily accessible, convenient and visible. It will often host large gatherings, such as business meetings and social events, sometimes attended by well-known people. Its owners also want to include a five-star restaurant that will offer a destination-dining experience for travelers and residents alike.

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