Chicago’s Sears Tower, which is now under new ownership, has considerably revamped the security program it inherited to create a robustly secure environment that feels anything but fortified.
The tower’s security and safety professionals watch over a population of about 12,000 tenants who work for approximately 90 tenant companies. After 9-11, security measures—such as the installation of barricades around the building, mandatory bag and briefcase screening for all employees and visitors, and a marked increase in security officers—gave the building an intimidating, unfriendly feel. When Sears Tower Management Group took over the building, it brought in a new security director to rework the security program.
Business-style uniforms and customer service training were inaugurated for security officers, a new visitor-management system and self-check-in kiosks helped end backups in the lobbies, and mandatory bag and package screening was reduced to oversized items only.
Additionally, a full-time life-safety manager was hired to oversee tenant training on emergency evacuations and other crisis issues. A regular series of life-safety role-playing scenarios is held with Chicago police, fire, and rescue departments.
These changes and others have led to increased tenant satisfaction. Occupancy, which fell after 9-11, is now on the rise.
Ann Longmore-Etheridge is associate editor of Security Management.