Secure Design
Layered Protection Provides Inconspicuous Secure Design Protection
Joe Gannon

A major component of secure design is understanding the threats, vulnerabilities, and risks associated with a particular client’s business and their facilities. Our task as engineers is to formulate a strategy that protects critical assets and reduces risk to an acceptable level, while at the same time delivers a facility that does not resemble a bunker (in most applications). After assets and vulnerabilities have been identified, the protection strategy is formulated.

The concept of layered protection offers a framework for a secure strategy with multiple layers of protection, not only to strengthen the modalities implemented, but in many cases, to provide an attenuated visual layering, or buffering of protection. Layered protection forms the basis of many physical security and anti-terrorism criteria, including design standards for a variety of federal agencies.

The concept of layered protection depends on the idea that standoff provides protection, which is true for many threat scenarios of importance to building owners, including blast. This protection strategy functions by creating concentric rings of protection to mitigate successively smaller and smaller threats. The goal is to detect and defend against the largest threats in the outermost layers, where the largest standoff is likely to occur.

Layered protection is already embedded within most federal anti-terrorism criteria, although we have seen an increasing demand by private clients wishing to blend the protection of critical assets with elegant design. The provision of a layered protection strategy grants an opportunity to create attractive green space to enhance employee and visitor experience. This green space can be blended with a wide variety of components such as benches, landscape walls, dry moats, planters, or natural features offering physical security benefits that integrate into the project without creating a bunker-like atmosphere. Additionally, building entries and the building envelope will form layers within the protection strategy, which integrates to offer security without compromising the aesthetic or effectiveness of the client’s design intent.

Joe Gannon / P.E.
Joe is a Senior Associate and Senior Engineer specializing in secure design with Walter P Moore’s Structures group in Austin, Texas.