Campus safety can be achieved through smart architectural decisions.

Using architecture to improve campus safety

Campus safety is paramount, and smart and strategic architectural designs can help promote safe and secure practices across universities

Any campus-wide design and planning process requires the engagement of a wide range of departments and stakeholders, which can include facility, administration, IT, student services, student life, security and academic departments. Security specialists may be added to the team if the institution feels their insight will bring value. The designer’s role is to then break down silos between these entities with the goal of collaboratively creating a unified plan for campus safety and security.

Campus circulation patterns are a key element in design for campus safety, both controlling and directing patterns of pedestrian and vehicular circulation. The design and planning team collectively maps these patterns—existing roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, bus stops and other vehicular and transit means, but also how pedestrians may create pathways around buildings and across green spaces and natural areas. In addition, sight lines, ‘blind spots’ and potential opportunities for circulation along unplanned paths must be explored and analyzed with the intent of reducing or preventing these situations.

For example, the former student union building at NC State University was uninviting and monolithic. Rather than walk through the building, which was a safer option, students had been circulating around and behind it, past dumpsters and service areas. Thus, in designing the new Talley Student Union, the old structure was opened from within and lighting and views into the facility now draw students into and through the space.

Laura Ascione