Business Security

How Security Design Made a Difference for Peabody Plaza

By Luke Hannibal and Chuck Williams

Proper security design can not only keep people safe, but also save building owners time, money and peace of mind.

At ACT, we believe that involving a security team early on in the building process is the best way to create a more secure facility. Plus, it allows us to design a more aesthetically pleasing security system and create a more seamless experience for everyone who enters the building.

One of our most recent projects, Peabody Plaza in downtown Nashville, serves as a great example of why it pays to bring on a security design expert early in the design stages of a construction project.

When Should a Commercial Security Team Be Hired?

The security design and installation process typically happens in one of two ways. In some cases, an architect will complete the security design as part of their overall process, and then a security contractor will be hired for installation. Or, a building owner or general contractor will bring in a security expert to handle the security design, such as in the case of Peabody Plaza.

On this particular project, ACT was brought in during the schematic design, about 25 percent of the way through the design phase. In our experience, this is the best time to bring in a security consultant because the building plans aren’t finalized yet.

That means if we see a design flaw that affects the security of the facility, the architects can typically make adjustments without too much added cost or difficulty. Plus, if the building owners want a particular security feature included in the facility, we have the ability to more easily incorporate those requests at this stage.

We’re also able to price things more accurately at this stage, because we know exactly which systems, technologies and hardware will be needed.

How Security Design Saves Building Owners Money 

Aside from creating a more secure building, the biggest benefit to bringing in a security expert early in the process is that it saves the building owner money.

Architects and contractors typically understand the importance of building security. But since it isn’t their area of expertise, it’s either not a top priority, or it may be done incorrectly. Then, when a security contractor is hired to do installation, they may notice security or design flaws that need to be fixed, leading to expensive change orders for other contractors and increased project management costs.

Though the amount varies depending on the project, a company could potentially save $10,000 to $100,000 by bringing in a security contractor during the design phase.

At Peabody Plaza, for example, we noticed that the original design included several unsecured doors, which is a major liability that might have left tenants feeling unsafe. Not only that, but it would have cost 25-50 percent more to fix that design flaw later in the process.

How the Security Design Process Works

Security design is a highly collaborative process, typically involving our security team, the architect and the building owner. When we joined the Peabody Plaza project, we met with Hastings — the architect — and Eakins — the building owner — to go over the design and hear the architect’s thought process behind certain elements.

We then worked with the owner to determine where to put security features including:

What Security Design Looked Like for Peabody Plaza

This process usually involves significant give and take, since most building owners have an idea of which security features should be included at specific access points. Over the course of several meetings, we were able to identify several key security issues, including places where card readers were needed and other spots where card access would be duplicated and therefore unnecessary.

Then, we marked up the building plans with our design suggestions and presented them to the client, and the finished design was incorporated into the architectural drawings. This is where some of the most valuable savings take place for the client, because the electrical contractors know in advance where to have conduit raceways in place for the security system.

Once the design was completed, contractors bid on the security installation. Since we were already familiar with the project, we won the bid and completed the security installation for the building.

What Comes Next?

Because we’re so familiar with the systems and technology at Peabody Plaza, we’re able to offer continued maintenance and support now that the project has been completed.

Although the access system is self-managed by the property manager from Eakins, we will provide responsive services and preventative maintenance. Since we designed the system from the ground up, it’s easy for us to step in and fix any issues that may arise.

If you’re looking for a custom security design and installation for your new project in Middle Tennessee, we would love to work with you! Contact us today to learn more.

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