Cahners Security Magazine Reprint

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August 28, 2023
Building Operating Management Reprint
August 28, 2023

Window Film Protects Wells Fargo During 2000 DNC

As the recent election controversy so eloquently demonstrated, politics can be ugly business. That’s why, when faced with an impending political convention—and all of the possibilities for protest and other threats that entails—one facility decided to take proactive measures.

In August 2000, the Democratic National Convention came to the Staples Center in California. Situated just blocks away was The Wells Fargo Center, at over 50 stories the tallest building in Los Angeles.

Richard Ward, the director of security and fire/life safety for Wells Fargo Center was concerned about the potential danger planned protests might cause his building. “With the history of the groups that were expected to come here and protest their particular causes, we didn’t want a repeat of the damage they had caused in other cities,” Ward says.

In the hub of the Los Angeles business district, the Fargo facility has thousands of pedestrians walking through the building every day. Some of Wells Fargo tenants include Starbucks, Bank of American, California Pizza Kitchen, Wells Fargo Bank, Wells Fargo History Museum. Other tenants include law offices and other high profile worldwide businesses.

“We wanted to conduct business as usual as much as possible,” Ward says. “This was a time for L.A. to show its stuff. To board up windows looks like we’re not welcoming the convention. We wanted to appear open and friendly, because we were.”

Wells Fargo’s primary concern was to protect its employees and tenants from flying glass. In addition to the immediate concern of the Convention, Ward also looked ahead to other advantages. “Being in Los Angeles, earthquake protection was one concern,” he says. Bomb and vandalism protection were also issues.

Crucial Time Factor

But although the long-term benefits were clear, the Convention was around the corner, and the time factor was crucial. The initial contact for the project was via email during the third week in July. The required completion date was August 9, giving only 10 days to complete more than 10,000 square foot installation.

Ward contacted ShatterGard, Atlanta, for advice in protecting the their windows from potential vandalism, and eventually chose that company’s product. Key reasons for Wells Fargo’s selection of ShatterGard included the time factor. In addition, Ward had other requirements. “Aesthetically, this is a beautiful property. I was concerned about optical clarity. I also wanted it to be easy to clean.”

After the choice was made, the installation began immediately. The priority was to protect the windows near ground level. National political conventions have a history of problems in the areas surrounding the convention facilities. Political conventions often bring protesters, and occasionally demonstrations get out of hand. The film had to protect against rocks, bottles and other thrown objects as well as strikes from baseball bats or similar objects.

The project was completed, on time, in only eight days.

Though the Convention went off without any major problems, Ward says he made the right call. “The tension for a security practitioner in downtown L.A. was high. This gave me a big piece of mind so I could turn my attention to other things. There were a number of major marches that went by the property. And though we had a number of officers on duty, we knew that if it should turn negative, we were well-protected and we wouldn’t have a breach of security or injuries for broken glass.”