Dezeen Magazine

Fruitport High School by Tower Pinkster

Michigan high school designed to reduce impact of mass shootings

American firm Tower Pinkster has designed a school in Michigan with the aim of reducing the number of student casualties in the event of a terror attack.

The architecture, engineering and interiors firm designed the entire Fruitport High School campus, from the building's form to details of door locks, with the aim to limiting the effectiveness of a shooter.

Fruitport High School by Tower Pinkster
The reception area is designed to maintain views of the entrance and into the school

Tower Pinkster's approach comes in the wake of a wave of violence in US education facilities, including shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland and Santa Fe High School in Texas.

Fruitport High School, which is currently under construction, is designed in segments that are divided by fire doors. These can be closed at the push of a button in the event of an attack to close off compartments, and isolate the attacker from students.

Fruitport High School by Tower Pinkster
Curved hallways are intended to cut off the shooter's sightlines

The campus' front will be curved and include large expanses of glazing to open up the sight lines from the reception area that will offer views of both the approach and into the school.

Hallways inside will also be curved to cut off the shooter's line of sight, while concrete wing walls will be placed intermittently to provide barriers for schoolchildren to hide behind.

Short blockades will protrude behind classroom doors to provide a cover for up to 33 persons – including 32 students in class and one teacher.

Fruitport High School by Tower Pinkster
Lockers are placed in the main common area and are low-level to keep the space open

Classroom door handles will be fitted with interior locks to offer further protection. The large number of windows at the school will be covered in a film that can stop bullets.

As part of the redesign of the school campus, Tower Pinkster has removed the lockers from the hallways and instead placed them in the large, open-plan communal area. These lockers will be short so that teachers can maintain views across the space.

In order to develop strategies in response to terror threats, Tower Pinkster enlisted the National Institute of Crime Prevention, which provides security training across a variety of areas. It  followed the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) in Schools programme.

"The training programme, CPTED in Schools, certified our staff on ways to increase safety and security on school campuses," said Tower Pinkster. "Coursework included ways to use lighting, colour, landscape design, terrorism and crisis planning, traffic calming and overall site assessment."

There has been a rising concern around mass shootings at schools in the US, with the attacks at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 26 children and adults were killed, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 were killed, recorded as among the deadliest.

Fruitport High School by Tower Pinkster
Large expanses of glazing will be covered in a film to protect against gunshots

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has responded to the threat by revealing plans for a series of initiatives that will use "the power of design" to help address violence in US schools, and create safer environments for children.

While the AIA is yet to clarify exact design details, a number of architecture firms have already provided examples. These include Brooks + Scarpa, which designed a school for one of Los Angeles' most dangerous neighbourhoods surrounded by bright yellow metal screens to make it "visually open but entirely secured".

Architects Svigals + Partners also recently rebuilt the Sandy Hook Elementary School to incorporate a series of protective measures to prevent such a tragedy happening again.