Office Building Security Is Getting Quite Smart

New technologies and services push corporate and office buildings security to the next level

The GSA owns 219 million sq. ft. of space and leases another 169 million sq. ft. Some leased government facilities date back to the 1960s and 1970s, with government-owned structures even older.

Louis Dreyfus Property Group, a real estate developer and manager, began construction on a new 1 million sq. ft. Securities and Exchange Commission headquarters in Washington, D.C. in 2002. However, the original designs had to be modified to conform to post 9-11 requirements. Bob Braunohler, vice president of Louis Dreyfus, estimates that security upgrades, including protective glazing, bollards and blast loads, totaled $20 to $25 million.

Situated adjacent to Union Station, the main train station in Washington, D.C., the project encountered unexpected challenges. "We had anticipated free and easy access between our building and the station. Then the world changed," Braunohler recalls.

The two SEC buildings are glass-skinned, requiring a protective coating against shattering, a leading cause of death and injury. The project also includes one private building not yet constructed or leased. A corridor will run below the two SEC buildings, allowing controlled access to the third, and all three will share a garage. A ramp provides a loading dock for all three buildings, as well as Union Station itself.

To minimize security risks, thick slabs at the ramp and garage provide special blast protection, designed to prevent a progressive collapse. Bollards and reinforced glazing on windows guard the exterior. Access from the station is controlled in the pedestrian corridor by an X-ray magnetometer, closed circuit television and keycards. - Vanessa Drucker