First Advisor

Todd Ferry

Date of Award

Spring 5-23-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Architecture and University Honors






School Entry Thresholds, Welcoming School Environments, Safety and Security, Inclusive Design, School Entry Redesign


Schools are known to have been one of the largest assets to communities, providing folks with integral resources and accessible spaces that can foster a variety of activities. Over the last decade, however, our perspective of schools has undergone significant changes. Schools have eagerly been undergoing the process of “hardening” by implementing safety and violence prevention tactics with Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) as a response to the staggering increase of gun violence incidents and safety & security issues today. Schools have been scrambling to accommodate this change in reality by retrofitting with security systems, implementing high security measures such as metal detectors, fortified entries, student ID cards, and patrolling officers; not only this, but many schools had even historically implemented student profiling strategies as a tactic as well. Such quick-response security implementations can have short-sighted pitfalls through security system planning inconsistencies and unwelcoming barricade-like design responses, failing to support a long-term, holistic approach to safety and security in schools.

While security efforts aim to enhance safety, they often result in environments that feel unwelcoming, unapproachable, and inaccessible to students, staff, and the community. This paper explores the multifaceted challenges of architectural school safety and security designs, specifically analyzing the intersection of safety, security, and inclusivity in entry threshold designs. The research emphasizes the importance of balancing direct security measures with indirect, human-centered design approaches, investigating strategies for creating secure yet welcoming entry thresholds specifically at the school main entry pathways, canopy, and vestibule. By analyzing existing practices and case studies, the study identifies key design strategies applicable to pathways, canopies, and vestibules. These strategies are: natural surveillance; landscape and biophilic strategies; accessibility and universal design; and art and design interventions, which all work to prioritize both physical security and the promotion of a sense of belonging. Lastly, the thesis then reimagines and applies these strategies to the main entry thresholds of two schools in Oregon City, Oregon. In conclusion, rather than instilling fortress-like designs or the direct, bland security tactics that can instill fear and isolation, architects have a responsibility to push these ideas deeper to craft a better human experience. Architects must instill the best of practices; while security interventions provide them a framework, it’s up to them to craft the narrative and experience, pushing beyond their conventional designs.

Included in

Architecture Commons