9/11 changed architecture and urban design forever
"Whenever anybody thought about security, it was an afterthought in design," says Jon Coaffee, a professor of urban geography at the University of Warwick who focuses on terrorism and urban resilience. Almost immediately, the design of buildings and urban spaces began to reflect the new tensions and security concerns of a world in which any place could be a target. "First, you saw temporary security quickly go up ," says Diane Sullivan, director of the urban design and plan review division at the National Capital Planning Commission, the federal government's central planning agency for the D.C. region. These security concerns also translated into the design of some federal buildings, both in D.C. and abroad. The headquarters of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, designed by Safdie Architects, has a crescent-shaped arcade at the perimeter of the building site that serves as a security barrier, forming an architectural blockade against a vehicular attack. The design of U.S. embassies has also undergone a dramatic reconsideration in recent decades, according to Barbara Nadel, principal of Barbara Nadel Architect in New York and editor of a book on the design of embassies and other high-security buildings. Increasingly, security design is moving beyond the building and out into the landscape. Even in the face of deadly attacks and terrorist threats, there are limits to how much security design can provide-and also how much security people want.