Protective Design

Hinman is a world leader in protective design. We work with commercial and governmental organizations to design and engineer physical structures that mitigate risk; we serve as advisors when the threat climate is ongoing.

Our experience in physical security and blast design allow us to study and interpret project specific constraints, assess threat potential and risk. We consider the variables relative to the specific threat climate of the project and advise stakeholders as they make critical decisions. We are intent on balancing design goals with cost and protection concerns which result in recommendations that optimize all design decisions.


Catastrophic explosions—whether due to terrorism or accidental process/operational events—are significant risks to human life, finances, and reputations. Hinman is adept at assessing the likelihood and consequences of explosions and are highly qualified to advise clients on protective measures. Our understanding of explosion risks gives us the ability to calculate potential blast effects, harden new and existing structures and should an explosion occur, offer forensic analysis of facilities following an explosion.

  • Terrorist/criminal incidents
  • Ammunition and explosive safety
  • Accidental vapor cloud explosions (VCE)

In addition to planning, assessment and protective design services, we have also provided expert testimony in civil litigation.

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Fire may threaten the structural integrity of a building as the primary cause of damage or as the secondary cause following extreme events such as blasts or impacts (multi-hazard). The ability of the underlying structure of facility to withstand the effects of a catastrophic fire will have a major life/safety, operations and financial implications. While fire protection and structural engineering considerations are often disconnected, we do not overlook this important threat.

Hinman’s expertise in structural engineering helps us create elegant, robust, and cost-effective solutions to combat the effects of fire. Our team uses an engineering framework that geometrically maps the range of fire influence and quantifies the effects on the structure. We use this framework to identify the fire vulnerabilities of existing structures and to develop design criteria for new structures that meet the owner’s desired performance goals.

We use fidelity methods appropriate to the project: our own Fire Loading and Mitigation Evaluator (FLaME) software (design level fidelity) or commercially available computational fluid dynamics and finite element software (research/forensic level fidelity).

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Bridge Fires

Bridges are a critical element of transportation infrastructure and severe damage can have a severe economic and social impact, in both short and long term.

These include not only direct cost of repairs but additional police and planning costs, commute challenges, distribution and supply chain implications, and the slowing of emergency responders. Damage to bridges can also affect the long-term economic development and viability of a community.

Compounding the risk is the symbolic and brand damage. From the Golden Gate Bridge to the Brooklyn Bridge to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, bridges are also powerful iconic symbols of a city or region.

Hinman’s experience includes risk assessment, master planning, fire safety, structural design, explosions, perimeter security, seismic risk, protective design, complex modeling, for high-profile, design-forward, critical infrastructure facilities including tunnels, airports, and bridges.

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The Hinman team’s collective seismic design experience spans projects from new design to existing historic and contemporary building retrofits. Our engineers and managers have investigated firsthand the effects of earthquakes on both domestic and international construction.

Many of our project managers started as structural engineers specializing in seismic design before expanding into extreme loading structural design, which includes experience in blast and progressive collapse.

Hinman adds value to engineering and design teams that require custom, project-based expertise in seismic design and assessment. We provide consulting, analysis, design criteria and conceptual solutions to make both new and existing buildings more resilient to earthquakes.

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Forced Entry

Perimeter systems to prevent forced entry need to be secure yet unobtrusive, and sensitive to the overall design of the facility.

Hinman provides perimeter protection recommendations for everything from deterrence measures, using Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) concepts, to attractive and effective perimeter systems to physical barriers capable of stopping 15,000 pound vehicles traveling 50 mph.

Most rated perimeter systems are designed to meet a Department of State 15,000 lb. vehicle threat, but this can be excessive for federal or private buildings with lower threats. Instead of using this one-size-fits-all approach, Hinman looks at each project carefully and to individually determine the client’s particular needs.

We then design proprietary systems that best fit the location, employing both simple and advanced tools for barrier design.

Perimeter security consulting services include:

  • Specification preparation
  • Qualified manufacturer recommendations
  • Ramming threat definition
  • Detailed design of custom solutions
  • Access control point recommendations
  • Foundation analysis for barriers
  • Testing of barrier system
  • Review of testing reports
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In the last few years, deliberate vehicle ramming into a crowd of people has become a major terrorist/criminal tactic. Its attractiveness as a tactic is a function of its potential to cause significant fatalities; profound ability to cause significant economic and social damage to cities and regions; its low cost; and the difficulty of prevention (as anyone with access to a car is a potential perpetrator).

Compounding this risk is that in many cases, perpetrators combine vehicle ramming with other violent criminal acts such as shootings. At the same time, however, cities and communities need to find a balance between creating a fortress-like conditions and one that is welcoming and fostering of a healthy and thriving community environment and economy.

Hinman has the expertise, experience, and sensitivity to help improve the safety of citizens and communities while maintaining the attractiveness and vibrancy of a place.

Bringing together its work in risk assessment, master planning, protective design, perimeter security, active shooter scenarios, and its experience in working on high-profile, design-driven projects, Hinman is extremely well positioned to help community and civic leaders assess, design and implement highly effective risk mitigation for vehicle ramming in conventional, design-sensitive, and high-profile environments.

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Ballistic threats, whether from firearms, missiles, or process accidents, are unfortunately a fact of life in a growing range of contexts, both civilian and military. Our work has saved lives and helped reduce injuries, damage to property, and downtime.

Our designs provide maximum possible protection to both personnel and property from damaging effects of ballistic events. They will also minimize exposure to accidental explosions, consistent with safe and efficient operations.

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Active Shooter

In the United States, active shooter events are the most common and tracked type of mass casualty incidents and garner a great deal of media and policy attention due to their increasing frequency and number of victims. To maximize lethality these acts are typically carried out in confined spaces. Hinman’s expertise in protecting against and mitigating explosive and ballistic risks, its perimeter security and protective design experience along with its complex modeling capabilities enable it to help clients of all types prevent and mitigate the risks from active shooter scenarios.

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Structural vibration not only disturbs those inside buildings or on structures, but, if not accounted for, can render sensitive equipment facilities unusable. Buildings with long spans or of lightweight construction, footbridges, staircases, buildings with rhythmic crowd loading (stadiums, gyms etc.) and low vibration environments, such as laboratories or precision manufacturing are particularly susceptible to vibrations and so need special consideration and design.

Using fundamental structural dynamic principles, the latest research from the US and Europe, and finite element techniques, Hinman provides accurate structural vibration predictions and cost effective, real world solutions over prescriptive, code-based approaches.

Structural vibration consulting services include:

  • Prediction
  • Measurement
  • Mitigation
  • Peer Review
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A structure’s ability to absorb disastrous impacts with timely returns to normalcy is known as structural resilience and embraces robustness, redundancy, and recovery.

Structural design, on the other hand, is load-dependent and does not consider recovery time. Disasters include anything that debilitates structural functions for a period of time. Structural resiliency considers community capabilities as they relate to effective preparation and mobilization before, during, and after events.

Ultimately, blending robustness, redundancy and recovery characteristics will help clients better achieve their goals.

Hinman is positioned to assist our clients in all aspects of resilience management. Our services include:

  • Robustness/Progressive Collapse
  • Redundancy/Redundant Design
  • Recovery Planning (Emergency Preparedness)
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Floods are the most common natural disaster and the leading cause of natural disaster fatalities worldwide.

Risk of catastrophic losses due to flooding are rapidly increasing due to causes such as climate degradation, deforestation, and the increasing proximity of large populations to coastal areas, river basins, and lake shores.

However, the risks of flooding are compounded by the attractiveness of waterside environments for high-end housing, tourism and civic development. Balancing the needs of the community with the need for safety can be particularly challenging.

Bringing together its work in risk assessment, master planning, protective design, financial analysis and modeling and its experience in working on high-profile, design-driven projects, Hinman can help community and national leaders assess, design and implement highly effective risk mitigation for flooding in conventional, design-sensitive, and high-profile environments.

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Nuclear Stockpile Protection

For governments and citizens alike, nuclear stockpile protection is a national security concern of the highest order, whether the issue is safety or nonproliferation.

Some of the risks are inherent in the nature of the materials, while others may stem from other causes such as fire, terrorist acts, or ballistic threats. With its understanding of both catastrophic and day-to-day risks encountered through routine maintenance, Hinman team has the expertise and experience to help government leaders:

  • Maintain nuclear stockpiles
  • Monitor nonproliferation
  • Support the capabilities of the nuclear Navy, and Responding to the nuclear and radiological emergences.

From conducting risk assessments to developing master and site-specific plans to safeguard against a broad range of risks such as fire, explosion, earthquake, ammunition and ballistic threats, to assisting with decision support and financial modeling, the Hinman team has what it takes to help leaders deal with this most significant and high profile of risks.

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Improvised Explosive Devices

Even a relatively small improvised explosive device (IEDs) delivered to a populated venues or buildings can cause chaos, fear, and disruption in addition to injuries and fatalities within a community, and can create challenges for economic stability and growth.

With experience and expertise gained from its work in active military environments, combined with its expertise in blast engineering in high-profile environments such as embassies and hospitality environments, Hinman can work with clients to conduct risk assessments and master planning, protective design against explosions and fire, mitigate against risks from progressive collapse, financial modeling and the design of security measures to prevent or mitigate against IED risks.

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