5 Design Considerations For Building Security

In light of increased armed attacks on cinemas, grocery stores, churches, and elementary schools, security considerations are now at the forefront of discussions concerning employee and customer safety everywhere. Unfortunately, in most cases, these considerations emerge as afterthoughts once the tragedy has struck and buildings have already been constructed.

But for those commissioning new buildings and those involved in designing those edifices, considering commercial building security from the beginning can save time, money, and perhaps lives at some point down the road. Building safety need not be relegated to installing electronics and software as an afterthought. Specific security needs ideally should be addressed early in the design process.

5 Design Considerations For Building Security

Building Security Design Considerations

So, what are some of the top building security design factors to consider before putting pencil to paper? Here are five that need addressing from day one.

1. Security From or Against What?

The first consideration should be what a specific security system needs to protect. Logically, this will include employees, visitors or clients, and staff. However, now more than ever, security is no longer limited to access control and security management of those within a building. The facility, such as an office building or a healthcare facility, may need varying levels of access control present.

Security needs are not limited to only protecting people but may need to protect data storage systems, merchandise warehouses, currency, valuables, or pharmaceuticals, to name a few. Security might involve protection from theft, vandalism, or the destruction of property. Who will be allowed where, what they can carry into the building, but equally as important, what they can take out of the building.

2. Design Elements

Exceptional, highly performing security systems generally take into consideration three design elements and integrate them into building design:

  • Architectural and natural barriers

These barriers use natural barriers and landscaping to impede undesired access to a building along with the types, sizes, numbers, and locations of doors and windows utilized or access points.

  • Human security

These protocols involve the use of security personnel and their positioning.

  • Electronic smart security

State-of-the-art technological hardware and software are available in a vast array of choices.

When considering design elements to integrate for efficacious security, the location of the building becomes essential. Local building codes, fire or emergencies, and the American Disabilities Act regulations will affect security layering. An audio intercom will not be adequate when serving the hearing impaired unless integrated with a video system. Architectural barriers are often not appropriate or possible in urban settings.

Security staffing considerations should be included from the beginning as you need to train personnel to operate advanced technological security systems and room-to-house security system equipment.

3. Security System Offensiveness

Security systems have the potential to be offensive, so designs with access control need to be unobtrusive and not intimidating. Occupants must feel safe, but access should be uncomplicated when entering or leaving a building.

Ensure that you choose business surveillance systems that are discreet and used for security management and protection only. Visitors must not feel unwelcome. The employees’ privacy requires protection, and restricted access zones should not negatively impact those not admitted. Well-designed security systems will properly restrict access in a welcoming environment.

4. Tailoring Security Systems to the  Purpose of a Building

Depending on the type of building and its purpose, security and design considerations will go hand-in-hand. Healthcare facilities and hospitals, hotels, laboratories, airport terminals, banks, or offices will have differing logistic and security needs.

Laboratories handling hazardous materials, banks with valuables and currencies, or hotels with crowd flow and pedestrian traffic will require specific security systems designed for those needs. And many of these building types must adhere to stringent codes.

A bank, office, or healthcare facility may integrate video intercom and access control hardware in the building design, so they appear merely a convenience. User-friendly for guests but affords employees to grant door access to visitors remotely.

Buildings may contain blind spots that security personnel are unable to monitor. A video security system in these situations should be equally unobtrusive.

Examples of security components to consider include:

  • Access control
  • Alarms
  • Crowd flow
  • Intrusion detection
  • Lighting
  • Perimeter control
  • Vehicle and Parking control
  • Video management

5.   Planning for Cloud Security and Advanced Technology

Thanks to advancements in technology, cloud-based security platforms are now a reality. They can be integrated seamlessly together through wireless technology. The choice of a cloud-based security system will influence logistical needs within a property, saving money and space for other necessities.

Cloud-based systems permit remote management of doors, windows, and locks, as well as trigger alarms for specific hazards through the internet. Apart from saving space, they integrate easily, are easy to update, and facilitate maintenance and diagnostics.


Security requirements should be evident at the start of the design process. Architects and engineers can benefit from consulting security experts regarding needs, space, and minimizing electronic security in terms of cost and the number of experts needed to operate these systems.

Security is no longer designed based on specific single needs but can share equipment used in other building systems. Integration of cables or communications equipment can save money over time and facilitate upgrades when programmed.

Francis Nwokike

Francis Nwokike is a Social Entrepreneur and an experienced Disaster Manager. I love discussing new business trends and marketing tips. I share ideas and tips that will help you grow your business.

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