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Mark Huber | markhuber

The Importance Of Bollards In Building Design

Mar 2nd 2015 at 3:25 AM

The short, vertical poles known as bollards are a deceivingly simple concept. They are used in crowd control, traffic calming and building protection applications, but the extent of their usefulness is much larger. Bollards show up in paintings and illustrations of buildings from the 1700s, and it seems their purpose was the same as one today: preventing vehicles from hitting the structure. Of course, in the 1700s, the vehicles were horse-drawn instead of gas powered.

Over the centuries, the applications for bollards have increased tenfold, but the basic design has remained the same. Some bollards are retractable into the ground or made of bendable material to offer more gentle direction. Choosing the appropriate material and placement of bollards in building design has become something of a science. Elements that must be taken into consideration include use of the building, desired accessibility and threats to security.

A basic use of bollards aims to keep people, buildings and vehicles all working together in a complementary way. Bollards are placed at the perimeter of a structure to prevent cars running into the building, but they must be placed to allow the smooth flow of people into and out of the building, including people who use wheelchairs or emergency responders who will need access quickly. Simple bollards are meant to direct non-threatening people in a virtual unnoticed manner while offering security for the building, which usually is a low-security building.

For higher-stakes buildings, however, the choice of bollards is more deliberate. If the building is likely to be targeted by terrorists, disgruntled employees or thieves, bollard placement must be closely considered. Also, when the stakes are high in case of a breach, such as in hospitals or research laboratories, correct placement may be the difference between life and death.

Crash-resistant or attack-resistant bollards are the standard for buildings with a higher security risk. Here, placement is of primary concern as well. Building designers must decide how close they want vehicles to be able to get to the building. Because of this, bollards may be placed 50 feet or more away from a building, and sometimes a secondary set will be installed closer to the door, creating layers of protection.

Retail stores, from small boutiques to big-box warehouses, tend to place bollards near the front door of their businesses to deter thieves from stealing merchandise and then making a quick getaway. Still, allowing easy access for customers introduces a complication into this security approach.

The use of bollards in building design is a decision that requires a logic and consideration but is vital for the safety of all the people a building serves.

To learn more about bollards and barbed wire fences in San Marcos for your business, click here.

Author Bio

Mark advises people on fence and security techniques and industry trends. You can find his thoughts at his fence services blog.

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