A University of Colorado Denver researchers says the restricted areas have led to blighted landscapes, limited public access and a need for a new approach to urban planning, a university release said Tuesday.
"Our most open, public cities are becoming police states," Jeremy Nemeth, assistant professor of planning and design, says.
"While a certain amount of security is necessary after terror attacks, no amount of anti-terror architecture would have stopped the 9/11 attacks, or the Madrid or London subway bombings," he says.
"And by limiting access and closing off space, we limit the potential for more 'eyes on the street' to catch possible acts in the process."
However, with ongoing terror threats such as the recent plots to bomb downtown Portland, Ore., and New York City, Nemeth says "security zones" must now be considered a new type of land use similar to parks, open space and sidewalks.
"They must be planned and designed in ways that involve the public and are useful to downtown built environments," he says.
"Right now they consist of haphazard placement of metal gates, Jersey barriers and cones, but if these are to become permanent additions to the urban landscapes, we must understand how to integrate them into the existing built fabric."
The security zones not only affect the appearance of landmark buildings but also reflect an "architecture of fear," causing a sense of unease rather than reassuring the public, he says.