Aesthetics vs. so-called “security:” Was this really necessary?

July 30, 2009

A July 27 New York Times article covered the dismantling of part of a brand-new, architecturally powerful border crossing building on the Canadian border in Massena, New York. As a design professional, this caught my eye and raised my ire on a number of levels. The design for the building in question was unveiled four years ago, and work was completed less than two months ago. It was meant to be a distinct improvement on notoriously poor architecture. As the Times story noted, "Even many in the famously fractious architectural community celebrated the complex — particularly its main building, emblazoned with glossy yellow, 21-foot-high letters spelling ‘United States’ — as a rare project the government could point to with pride." It turns out, however, that once the Customs and Border Protection agency of the Department of Homeland Security (which approved the design in 2007) saw the finished product, they decided it was – get this – a security risk. As if terrorists would not be able to figure out that a building straddling a road on the U.S.-Canadian border is a border crossing station into the United States. As if removing the sign would make it any less of a target. I can’t follow the logic here. Frankly, this just plain boggles the mind. Aside from the obvious waste of resources, we had something aesthetically pleasing and celebratory. The Times article goes on to say "The move is a depressing, if not wholly unpredictable, example of how the lingering trauma of 9/11 can make it difficult for government bureaucracies to make rational decisions." I couldn’t agree more. Maybe a letter to your Representative or Senator could change some minds?

blog comments powered by Disqus
Brandlogic and CoreBrand have become Tenet Partners — Where brand meets innovation®. More