This Mich. School’s $48 Million Reno Aims to Mitigate Active Shooter

The building’s new design includes curved hallways meant to cut down on an active shooter’s sightline and a “shadow zone” in each classroom.

This Mich. School’s $48 Million Reno Aims to Mitigate Active Shooter

Image: TowerPinkster

A Fruitport, Mich., high school has committed $48 million to redesign its campus with the intent to diminish the impact of a potential active shooter.

Fruitport High School’s new design includes upgrades such as curved hallways to reduce an active shooter’s sightline and cement barricades.

The upgrade, which is part of a bond voters approved in 2016 and is expected to be completed in 2021, will include renovations to the existing building and entirely new sections, reports WZZM.

All classrooms in the 850-student school will have hallways, impact-resistance window film and a corner — called a “shadow zone” — that can’t be seen from the hallway and is large enough to hide an entire classroom out of sight.

Administrators will also have the ability to lock doors instantly with the push of a button and each classroom can be opened and locked using an electronic key card. In the event of a mass shooting, a security official located off-site can use the access control to override the locks or shut doors.

The new curved hallways throughout the building include cement block bump-outs (seen in the hallway images below) for students and teachers to hide behind.

Image: TowerPinkster

Fruitport Superintendent Bob Szymoniak said adding these layers of safety will buy students, teachers and staff time, saving lives as police respond.

“These are going to be design elements that are just naturally part of buildings going into the future,” he said.

The school approached architecture firm TowerPinkster, whose lead architect proposed integrating design elements that could also function as security, according to Insider.

“Part of the beauty of the design elements was that none of the security features make it look like they are security features,” said Szymoniak, adding that school officials and the firm made a significant effort to ensure they weren’t creating an overly militarized, anxiety-inducing environment.

The biggest problems Szymoniak foresees as construction continues is with parking and the fact that students won’t have lockers for some time. However, Szymoniak believes the end product will be worth any temporary inconveniences.

“This building will be the safest, most secure building in the state of Michigan when it opens,” he said. “Our ask is that our community be very understanding, keep the eyes on the prize because when our high school is done, it’s going be magnificent.”

A community open house is being planned for October and a special event will be held in December to unveil the new classrooms.

More detailed information on the project can be found here, including construction photos, drone footage and TowerPinkster’s initial design presentation.

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Senior Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy’s mother, brother, sister-in-law and a handful of cousins are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

In her free time, Amy enjoys exploring the outdoors with her husband, her son and her dog.

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3 responses to “This Mich. School’s $48 Million Reno Aims to Mitigate Active Shooter”

  1. John Brandt says:

    Each of the cement-block-bump-outs, shown in the images, will also provide a defensive barricade position for any shooter that wants to have a cover-position to engage responding police officers in a gunfight. Each of the cement-block-bump-outs, shown in the images, will also dramatically slow police response because officers will have to clear (verify that there’s no hiding shooter) each and every one of them as they proceed through the building. They provide dozens of hiding places where any shooter can take cover and engage responding police and they’re each a place that responding police can’t go past without making sure they’re empty. Did the Fruitport PD actually look at this and approve it, or is it an architect’s idea of CPTED? As a retired police officer, it sure worries me. I also worry that if people are taught that they can hide from active shooters behind these bump-outs, they may then choose to hide there when they should be running. They’re only protected from one side and they’re easy targets for a mobile shooter, walking down the hall, shooting stationary victims who aren’t really hidden at all. I don’t have a solution for the problem of active shooters, but this strategy looks like it’s potentially creating a false sense of security in the community and a serious set of problems for any responding police agency.

  2. Doug Dickey says:

    I agree with Mr. Brandt. This sounds like $48 million has been spent to allow an active shooter to roam hallways unchallenged as students and staff are forced to run or find a place to hide while they await the police. Has any provision been made to actually stop the armed intruder before he gains access to the building, or if he does, to incapacitate him before he begin taking lives?

  3. A CPTED practitioner and former police officer says:

    Exactly what I was thinking.

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