Reigning over Chicago's fabled skyline, the Sears Tower is still considered by some to be the world's tallest building. A thriving tourist center and economic powerhouse, the Sears Tower is an attraction in every sense of the word.
As the owner of a signature building, Trizec Properties felt the need to ramp up its security to protect its tenants and visitors. The sweeping changes to harden its structure represent growing security trends among high-rise facilities, in general.
Tens of thousands of employees, visitors, and shoppers regularly stream into the Sears Tower's bustling lobby. The tower's security department has always been interested in having the most advanced security system and researching the latest technology. Before the tragic events of September 11th, the building owner was in the process of changing from an analog video system to a digital system.
In the aftermath of September 11th, the tenants demanded a security upgrade. The project's challenges were that the project needed to be completed within a tight deadline and with a minimal amount of disruption to the large volume of building occupants “all while maintaining an open feel to the retail environment.
Analysis and Implementation
The building team collaborated with an independent security consultant who performed a thorough facility review and issued a report. Carlos Villarreal, director of security, Trizec Properties, Chicago, credits the company's vendor-partner, Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls, with helping to implement the recommendations from that report and to incorporate the new security equipment and technology into the facility's existing systems. Johnson Controls, which provided the facility's access control system, has been working with the Sears Tower since 1983, servicing and maintaining the building's automation system.
The first phase of the facility's updated security strategy was to secure the building's elevator core. We had to make a distinction between building tenants, office visitors, and just people who wanted to enjoy our retail shops,” says Villarreal. Metal detectors were added to screen all visitors to the open retail campus.
For the second phase of the security upgrade, optical turnstiles were installed to secure the elevator banks on the tenant side. To access the tenants' elevator banks, an end-user must use the turnstiles and show a building-issued identification card or a temporary day pass from the visitors' registration desk. Tenants want to restrict who has access to their space. Obviously they want to make it convenient for their customers, but they do not want the exposure to laptop theft or workplace violence,” says Villarreal.
The final phase was the installation of permanent planters and bollards around the perimeter of the building to get stand-off distance from the facility. This attractive series of flower-filled planters and polished chrome bollards are an effective but aesthetically pleasing tactic for exterior protection from speeding vehicles. To protect the loading dock area, the building owner installed Jersey crash barriers to serve as a barrier method.
In addition to installing turnstiles, the security department implemented a new card access system, and the existing video data and card access data was transferred to the new card access system's software. We secured the core of the building, so that you cannot get to the elevator banks without passing through a security device. All of this, in conjunction with the CCTV and the upgrade of the access control system, are integrated so that they rely on one another and give office management the ability to control their entire building,” says Mark Eggerding, senior technical solutions salesman in the Chicago office of Johnson Controls.
The facility also enhanced its closed circuit television system (CCTV) to detect potential threats from suspicious individuals. We needed to see who was lingering outside from a threat standpoint,” says Villarreal.
The entire building team strived to create a system that was operationally efficient without leading to long lines for end-users or unreasonable delays. Adds Villarreal, We wanted an open environment. If you are good at what you do, you can accomplish that with the right balance of equipment, technology, and the properly trained staff.”
Information and Training
Eggerding stresses the importance of training in making the Sears Tower security upgrade a success. Training is part of the logistics of any system,” say Eggerding. Generally, the Sears Tower's end-users were resilient to some disruptions, but the building team knew that dramatic changes could lower their frustration levels. By providing good signage and information to the tenants during the installation process, much confusion and apprehension was alleviated. It was like training people without training them,” says Eggerding.
Along with educating the end-users, the staff itself needed additional training. The security department needed to supplement its in-house security staff with contract employees. With approximately 10,000 daily visitors, over 125 different corporate tenants, and 104 elevators, the newly hired personnel and original staff members had to be orientated to the facility, able to answer end-users' questions, and give directions. The result in Villarreal's own words was, a logistical nightmare.”
Training sessions were scheduled on weekends so that security personnel could learn the building's evacuation plans, the new equipment, processes, and technologies. Quite honestly, at the beginning it was rough,” says Villarreal. At the facility's peak, there were 14 different starting shifts to accommodate the peaks and valleys of the building's occupancy. Fortunately, the difficult period passed quickly and the security system is a working success.
Review and Update
Recently, the building celebrated the first anniversary of the security upgrade, and the security department and its partners have learned from these challenges and plan to continually review and update their security needs. The changes at the Sears Tower mirror general security trends in skyscrapers.
There has been a direct impact on high-rise facilities since 9/11. Generally, security has tightened up, particularly for any building that would be considered a landmark or signature building,” says Geoff Craighead, vice president, High-Rise and Real Estate Security Services, Securitas Security Services USA Inc., Los Angeles.
Craighead is also board certified in Security Management (CPP) by the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS) International. Currently, he serves as president of the ASIS Professional Certification Board that administers certification programs for security professionals throughout the world, and co-chair of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Greater Los Angeles Security and Emergency Preparedness Committee. In the past, tall buildings were wide open during normal business hours and the idea was tenants can choose to control access to their own floors or suites,” explains Craighead. According to Craighead, building owners of all types of high-rise buildings “such as healthcare, hospitality, multi-family housing, and office buildings “have a heightened awareness regarding access control. Post September 11th, a number of facilities went to what I consider a closed building where they screen all people coming in during business hours,” says Craighead.
The major trends transforming skyscrapers are a hardening of the elevator core with an increased use of technology, such as card readers and biometric devices, and an increased reliance on closed-circuit television. In some cities, such as New York City, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, there has been a greater use of optical turnstiles to prevent tailgating or piggybacking of authorized end-users.
Craighead has also seen an increased focus on visitor centers and registration areas to control access. In addition to the increased fear of terrorism, building owners are still interested in preventing thefts and workplace violence. Workplace violence has been the top threat people perceive, ranking over terrorism. Even though terrorism has prompted a lot of changes, workplace violence is a major consideration,” says Craighead. In recent years, tenants have also demanded the elimination of solicitation from strangers during business hours, as well as having easy-to-understand evacuation information.
A point of emphasis for any building is having up-to-date emergency plans, having building staff well-trained, and getting the occupants to know what to do,” says Craighead. At Securitas, Craighead has conducted extensive security surveys and training programs, developed security policies and procedures, and written building emergency plans. He reinforces these points in the second edition of his book, High-Rise Security and Fire Life Safety, a comprehensive reference on security management and emergency planning.
More security departments in high-rise buildings are cognizant of the importance of training and stricter screening of loading docks and underground parking. Moreover, Craighead encourages building owners and facilities managers to rely on their security consultants, vendor-partners, and contract personnel for information, as well as researching websites from emergency organization such as the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Villarreal credits Trizec's success on forming good partnerships with its vendors and consultants, and the merger between facilities management and security departments. In the past, there was some segregation, but both departments should work in conjunction for the common goal of public safety,” says Villarreal.
You are no longer just locking the front door. Security has moved to the forefront into a merger of new technology and new human responses and procedures,” says Eggerding.
Regina Raiford Babcock is senior editor at Buildings magazine.