NEW IDEA IN SECURITY WOULD PUT VEHICLE BARRIERS ON A PAVEMENT-LEVEL
the New York Times online.
By David W. Dunlap
Printed December 28, 2006
It is easy to criticize haphazard security measures that cannibalize
and demean public space.
It is not so easy to come up with alternatives besides those
ever-multiplying sidewalk posts known as bollards. But a couple of
intriguing ideas from Rogers Marvel Architects are on view in the
Municipal Art Society’s Urban Center, at Madison Avenue and 51st Street.
One, an unobtrusive truck barrier, is already a reality at Battery Park
City. The other, a turntable barrier, may become a reality next year.
The turntable, 20 feet in diameter, would be embedded in Broad Street.
It would support a row of posts capable of resisting a heavy speeding
truck. There would be room enough between the posts for pedestrians to
pass, and the surface would be paved in the same material as the
Usually, the barrier would be in the closed position, perpendicular to
traffic. For authorized vehicles, the turntable would rotate 90
degrees, shifting the row of posts parallel to traffic and creating an
opening large enough to drive through.
Rogers Marvel and its offshoot firm, Rock 12 Security Architecture,
designed the turntable to help reclaim the streetscape outside the New
York Stock Exchange, which created a seven-block security belt around
itself after 9/11. This included makeshift checkpoints at which heavily
laden pickup trucks, parked crosswise, blocked the streets.
Five years later, there are still two pickup trucks at Broad and Beaver
Streets, surrounded by concrete planter tubs and police barricades.
If the turntable survives the scrutiny of the Police Department and the
Art Commission, it will replace the trucks sometime next year. It would
be made by the Macton Corporation of Oxford, Conn., one of whose
turntables is on stage at the Metropolitan Opera House.
This is the second phase of a streetscape program begun in 2003 by the
Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the Department of City
Planning and the city’s Economic Development Corporation.
In the first phase, temporary barricades around the exchange were
replaced with 30-inch-high barriers that Rogers Marvel calls NoGos.
Their faceted, polygonal bronze surfaces cover concrete cores weighing
a couple of tons. They are large enough and just flat enough to double
as benches. The turntable posts would resemble the NoGos, said Graeme
Waitzkin of Rock 12.
What if pedestrians are on the turntable when it begins moving? Robert
M. Rogers of Rogers Marvel answered with a question of his own: “Did
your grandmother ever fall down when she was having brunch at the
Rudin Management, the builder and owner of 55 Broad Street, which
stands at the checkpoint, supports the project. Asked what made the
turntable so attractive, John J. Gilbert III, the chief operating
officer at Rudin, said, “No. 1, it’s cool.”
MUCH less conspicuous is a barrier called a Tiger Trap that Rogers
Marvel and the Engineered Arresting Systems Corporation of Aston, Pa.,
have designed for the Battery Park City Authority. It functions like a
moat but looks like landscaping.
In the Tiger Trap system, which has been installed at Vesey Street and
North End Avenue, a threshold made of compressible concrete extends in
front of a low wall. The concrete bed is covered with plantings (sedum,
in the case of Battery Park City) or paving. It is strong enough to
bear the weight of people on foot.
But if a truck tried to cross it, the concrete threshold would
collapse, sending the truck into the barrier wall, which extends
several feet below ground. It has been shown to stop a 15,000-pound
truck hitting it at 50 miles per hour. Compressible concrete is also
used to stop aircraft that overrun the ends of runways.
“It’s been well tested,” James E. Cavanaugh, the president and chief
executive of the Battery Park City Authority, said yesterday.
“Our hope is that we can convince the corporate community to get away
from ringing their buildings with bollards,” he said. “We want to
provide the feeling of a city, rather than an armed camp.”
“You know what the obstacle is?” Mr. Cavanaugh continued. “When you
talk to corporate security people, they like the look of being
protected. They like the idea of bollards because it sends a signal to
would-be terrorists.” However, he added, “anyone who’s going to look to
breach security at a building is going to do their homework and find
out who’s protected and who’s not.”
He recalled the attitude among corporations a few years ago when the
authority started trying to integrate security less conspicuously into
the streetscape. “There wasn’t a lot of sympathy for the direction we
were headed in,” he said. “But I sense that interest is starting to
The turntable and the trap are featured in an exhibition, “The New
Street: Innovation at the Perimeter,” organized by Rogers Marvel. It
runs through Wednesday in the Urban Center Galleries, which are open
daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., but closed Thursdays and Sundays.
Admission is free.