Large Signs a Security Risk
A large sign saying “United States” at a border crossing was deemed a security risk:
Yet three weeks ago, less than a month after the station opened, workers began prying the big yellow letters off the building’s facade on orders from Customs and Border Protection. The plan is to dismantle the rest of the sign this week.
“At the end of the day, I think they were somewhat surprised at how bold and how bright it was,” said Les Shepherd, the chief architect of the General Services Administration, referring to the customs agency’s sudden turnaround.
“There were security concerns,” said Kelly Ivahnenko, a spokeswoman for the customs agency. “The sign could be a huge target and attract undue attention. Anything that would place our officers at risk we need to avoid.”
The move is a depressing, if not wholly unpredictable, example of how the lingering trauma of 9/11 can make it difficult for government bureaucracies to make rational decisions. It reflects a tendency to focus on worst-case scenarios to the exclusion of common sense, as well as a fundamental misreading of the sign and the message it conveys. And if it is carried out as planned, it will gut a design whose playful pop aesthetic is an inspired expression of what America is about.