The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) undoubtedly has more expertise in the field of planning for the exterior security of buildings than any other agency in America. They've released a National Capital Urban Design & Security Plan that, as its name indicates, seeks to incorporate better design into structures and their settings while still meeting vital security objectives.
I'll be posting more about the NCPC, and their National Capital Framework Plan, in a separate post.
Among the success stories NCPC staff pointed to is the now completed new security for the Washington Monument. You can take a look at the two photos. It's a visually elegant solution to providing security around what is one of the most important structures in America. The retaining wall wraps around the entire Monument. When visiting I found it also served as a great spot for taking photos! (As with most of the images I'm posting, if you click on them they'll open up at a larger size).
NCPC staff also felt positive about the design of the pedestrian area, and guard booths, which are now a permanent fixture at the ends of Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House. In walking through this area, I'd agree with their assessment. Indeed, having a pedestrian zone in this location seems much better than a steady flow of traffic, and better (and more safely) accommodates the thousands of visitors who want to be there.
NCPC staff have spoken at many conferences, and over the phone, with planners in other cities who want to incorporate better design into security features.
What follows is an 8 minute excerpt from a conversation I had on Friday, June 1st with staff of NCPC. The principal speaker you'll hear is Elizabeth Miller, the project manager for this. She has a background in both planning and landscape architecture. You'll also hear some comments from Patricia Gallagher who is Executive Director of the Commission.
Two things I think you'll find of special interest in the audio:
-- the fact that NCPC was taking a hard look at design & security before 9/11 (as a result of the Oklahoma City bombing) and was just about to release a major report when the attack on NYC and the Pentagon occurred.
-- the concerns NCPC staff have about whether we're all giving enough thought to probabilities in design for security; in other words, whether we're spending too much money in protecting facilities and areas where the likelihood of any terrorist attack is exceedingly remote.
- to listen to the conversation [press blue arrow to play; click link to download]
- access this conversation on our podcast page
Update: The landscaping of the Washington Monument by the Olin Partnership, including new and unobtrusive security features, won a General Design Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2008.