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Architects take extra steps to build safer buildings after school shootings

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Weeks after one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history, safety and security are at the top of mind for many people. Teachers, parents, and students are all asking the same question: how can we keep our buildings safe from shooting threats? And architects are working on answering that question.

Safety by design is becoming a top priority in not only schools, but every building.

"Unfortunately with the tragedies of more active shooter situations we're exercising a lot of those practices," said Melissa Destree who is the principal architect at Destree Design Architects in Madison. 

No matter the place, from libraries, to schools and even business, it's likely there's a safety plan in place for various scenarios including active shooters. But the safety of a structure begins even before it's built.

"We've basically been practicing a more robust security approach to designing office spaces, schools, all types of different uses," she said. 

Destree says active shooter concerns are becoming a top priority to some clients who come in looking to build.

"You know 20 years ago you didn't have those conversations," Destree said. 

Those conversations are now underway in Verona where some are concerned about the use of glass at the new high school. But Destree says that's only a danger to an extent.

"If you're in a public area, you would basically have walls, doors, secure entries to get in that next layer of a school," she said. 

The Verona Area School District is hosting a listening session for concerned parents on Thursday, March 15th at 7p.m. at Badger Ridge Middle School. The architect for the project will also be there to explain a couple of different options that could ease those concerns. 

A major design architects are taking is making sure rooms have more than one exit so people have options to escape. However, those security measures bring extra costs.

"Funds are very limited and it's very important that they prioritize they're funding and also prioritize the safety of all the individuals so it's difficult decisions that everyone has to make," Destree added. 

But it's a decision that could save lives.

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