Architect Support Site

How Can We Help You?

If you are an architect and you are visiting this page, we assume that you are in need of a security consultant or anticipate such a need in the future. Or, perhaps you are just educating yourself on the highly unique aspects of museum security. The first thing you need to know is that we do not practice architecture. That is your job. We are security consultants that specialize in work for architects on museum, library and cultural property projects.

I assume that you have visited our home page and from there visited the page “About Us” to learn who we are. You’ve probably read the page “Our Principles” which contains our bios and printed the document “About Steve Keller and Associates, Inc.”  And, we assume that you visited our page with the list of our past projects and clients.  If not, I suggest that you start there and return here after doing so.If you want to put us on your team as you compete for a project, call and we will send you the most up to date custom prepared materials. If, however, your proposal is tomorrow and you need something now, you can download what you will need from the bottom of this page

Following this paragraph you will find a FAQ that will answer most of the questions that you probably have. If you prefer to talk on the phone, by all means feel free to call us but we assume that since you are here, you prefer to find out who we are and whether we would be appropriate for your project by reviewing our site so please learn about us in any way you please. After the FAQ is a list of resources that you can use in the preparation of a short list presentation or assess our suitability. You will also find useful information that may help you with your project. Please use this data to prepare your package and call us if you need additional information or materials formatted differently. Please notify us if you include us on your team.


Is is true that you have worked exclusively on projects involving cultural properties?  Yes. That’s generally true. We are generally not interested in working on other projects and do not pursue non-cultural property work aggressively. Recently we have begun working on non-cultural property projects in some, but not all, environments when an architect is involved. We will readily work on projects involving private residences if the owner has a substantial collection, or on a corporate project if it involves artwork or collections. But as a rule, we have more than enough work and we enjoy being specialists in our field. And, our clients like it too. We have been told many times that because we are specialists we were chosen over other larger firms who are generalists. We suggest that you stress this point in your short list presentation as this is a great advantage to the client. They often contract directly with us to perform start-up consulting for new or widely expanded buildings, such as writing policy manuals or defining staffing needs. Because we are specialists, they find we are better able to meet their wider range of needs than an engineering firm with no cultural property experience. With that said, if you are an architect and you have an interesting project in any environment that requires our specialized expertise--working in landmark buildings, working on projects that require expertise in providing security that is visually unobtrusive, etc. please consider us. It is good that we occasionally spread our wings.

Do you sell any products? We are independent non-product affiliated consultants with nothing to sell. The International Association of Professional Security Consultants prohibits its members from selling products or being affiliated with vendors or contractors. But they also allow members to sell “consulting products” that they develop for use by their clients or fellow professionals. These include books, articles, reprints, software, manuals, training materials, videos, etc. which are intended to enable clients to be self-sufficient and need fewer billable hours. Our products meet that criteria. Our product association is within the requirements of the Code of Ethics of the IAPSC and generally involves only products we produced and which were formerly sold by Horizon Institute which we are not affiliated with.

Are you owned by a guard company?  No. We were once a subsidiary of a company that provides event staff for the sports and entertainment industries and they owned a company that provides staff to cultural institutions. That affiliation lasted less than five years and ended in 2009.  We are an independent employee owned firm.

Have you worked with architects before on complex projects?  Absolutely! We’ve done hundreds of projects involving architects over 30 years. We’ve worked with many of the world’s greatest architects and many have invited us back to work for them on multiple projects. Many of the projects we have worked on were major, high profile and award winning projects featured in architectural magazines and journals. You’ve never seen our name in these articles because we don’t publish information about security systems in museums and even prefer that no reference whatsoever is made to security. But we are involved in most jobs from the schematic design phase to the project close out. We have a former architect on our staff because we feel this is the best way to meet your needs. She is no longer licensed and doesn’t practice architecture but her knowledge and skills are helpful to our architect clients.

Is your staff qualified?  Yes. We have long term employees, all of whom have worked on many major projects involving our architect clients. They are very experienced.  Our credentials in the cultural property environment are formidable and can add substantially to a short list resume when you try to win that museum design job. Steve Keller has extensive museum security management experience and served as the Executive Director of Protection Services and Construction Projects Advisor for the Art Institute of Chicago.

How is your work product?  We work in AutoCAD and REVIT BIM and we produce drawings, specifications and other bid package documents that are second to none. We can give you a sample of our drawings if you need to see it.

What will we get from you if we hire you?  You get shop drawing level CAD or REVIT drawing files.  You get a detailed specification in CSI format. And we provide cost estimates at 50% DD and 65% CD that are remarkably accurate. We review contractor submittals, assist with bid reviews, and provide construction management. Of course, when we prepare a proposal, you get to tell us exactly what you want and we will see that you get it.

Our documents are completely biddable. They normally stand on their own in the bid package and are never re-drafted by the electrical engineer before being integrated into their package. They are used to bid both the security conduit and the security systems. They include coordinated drawings of the security control room and include electronic hardware on doors with access control devices, security intercoms, digital and analog CCTV systems, museum object protection systems, etc. We provide full coordination with door and hardware, electrical, fire and safety, IT, telecommunications, and others. We assist the electrical and mechanical engineers in computing heat loads for control rooms and security closets and we tell the electrical engineer what high voltage power we need so it can be included in his package.  And we work with the architect on making security devices less obtrusive. We are not electrical engineers so we don’t stamp and seal our drawings but if you need that service, our associate engineer can do a review and provide that service as an extra service. Normally low voltage drawings only require your seal on the permit set.

Some consultants don’t do CAD/REVIT. Do you?  Absolutely. We have three CAD/REVIT chairs and can work in almost any version.  We also work in Revit BIM if necessary. There is a slight premium for REVIT projects because they take more time.

What do we have to do if we want to invite you to be on our team pursuing a project?  Please call us to discuss your project. In all probability everything that you need to prepare your packet can be found on our site. If you need something in a different format, like an SF 330, we can prepare something special for you. But since architects often have little notice that a security consultant is needed for their team and need something immediately, you can find all of the information you need on the site and modify it if your needs are immediate and Steve Keller is traveling. But we do want to know when you use our name as part of your team if for no other reason than to handle questions if we are called by the client.

Will you offer us an “exclusive” as we pursue a project?  No. I’m sorry that we can’t. We are invited by at least one architectural firm short listed for nearly every cultural property project, to be on their team. Sometimes we are on every team. Because we are the world’s leading firm, we are well-known to most museum directors, and we work almost exclusively on cultural property projects, we can’t limit ourselves to just one team or we would reduce our chances of winning any given project substantially.  But if we are on your competing architect’s team, you bet that you want us on your team, too, to neutralize their advantage. We do not favor any team and provide identical materials and prices to everyone.

How can we get a proposal from you?  Just call. I need to know a little about the project but most important I need to know your contractual obligation regarding submittals and meetings. We would like to participate in the following submittals: SD, 35% DD, 100% DD, 65% CD, 95% CD, 100% CD, at least two site inspections during construction, and a final acceptance test to conclude the project. We review all contractor submittals, as well. If we don’t participate in the work early, then door and hardware, electrical, conduit, and control room heat load don’t get coordinated and the cost estimate for these other disciplines is impossible to prepare accurately. I also need to know your expectations with regard to attendance at meetings. Meetings and drawing revision submittals are what drive our fees and increase our reimbursable expenses. Note that YOU define our scope of work. If, later, you ask for interim submittals or visits that were not included, they can be provided at a fee agreed upon in the initial contract as additional work. But we suggest that you include every visit and revision (such as “for coordination” or “for permit”, etc.)  that you want us to participate in so it is defined in the base agreement and fixed fee.

We offer a fixed fee for a defined scope of work plus reimbursable expenses. We never offer a fixed rate that includes expenses and we are not interested in participating in such projects. If the owner has imposed limits on reimbursables, then we MUST know this before proposing. This includes blueprinting, shipping, travel costs, meals, ground transportation, parking, etc. If the client limits travel costs in any way, such as by denying use of rental cars or mandating use of a specific airline or travel agent, then we MUST know this in advance. We ask that if in your negotiations with the owner, you discover that such limitations are being imposed, that we be informed and that you not assume that we will accept such conditions without increasing the fee to compensate. Because we know that you must mark up our fees, we propose with a very sharp pencil and anything that detracts from our profits may make our participation impossible. The fee we propose to you does not contain any “fat” and is not subject to negotiation without eliminating scope items.

We will submit a proposal which includes terms and a scope of work. You may then re-draft this into the standard AIA Agreement. You must reference our scope of work as an attachment and provide for required fees and reimbursements. Payment terms are “Net 30 days after you get paid by the client”. 

Are you insured?  Yes. Every firm claims to have professional liability insurance that covers their errors and omissions but many have one of two types of policies. The first type is offered by a trade group and simply defends them against you in litigation. This is not professional liability insurance and is not in your best interest. Others including electrical engineers have standard engineering policies that cover their technical competence but does not cover their strategy of design for a museum alarm system. Some have true professional liability insurance but it has an exclusion specifically excluding burglar alarm designs. We have true professional liability insurance of the type you want your team members to have and we can name you as an additional insured. It is from a leading firm that also insures architects. It does not have relevant exclusions. To our knowledge we are the only firm in the country with this coverage.  We are covered for $1,000,000 per occurrence $1,000,000 aggregate with all of the other stuff your insurance company and client are concerned about such as rental car, etc also included. General liability insurance is $1,000,000/$2,000,000. Umbrella policies or higher coverage are not available due to the high risk involved. 

Under no circumstance will we even entertain asking our insurer to increase the limits or modify the policy in any way. This is not negotiable. We have never been excluded from a project for inadequate insurance. Some owners, generally government owned museums, demand $5,000,000 but after a year of frustration being unable to find anyone on the planet with such coverage come back and accept our coverage. Please don’t ask us to re-visit this. We are fortunate to have the policy we have and on advice of our insurance consultant and broker will not “rock the boat”. If this is a problem for your client, discuss it with them. If they insist upon limits that are not available to us, don’t include us on your team. I can tell you from 30 years of experience, that once informed of the problems, clients have always provided us with a waiver. Always.

Everyone misunderstands this insurance. It is not possible for anyone to get better coverage. We got it due to a special 20 year relationship with the insurance industry. The issue of not wanting to increase coverage to $5 million and does not involve not wanting to pay more money and add coverage. Higher limits simply are not available for what we do. Anywhere. A well known Seattle billionaire (you know who I am referring to) once insisted we buy $5,000,000 in insurance to work on his residential construction project. He said he could buy any amount of insurance. After months of trying he found that higher limits for true professional liability insurance that covers the strategy of design of a museum burglar alarm system (or a burglar alarm system in a residence of that magnitude) is not available on the world market at any price.

Why can’t you get higher limits?  Let me see if I have this right? You tell me how much money I have to spend on your security system. Even if i feel a higher budget is needed, it just isn’t my call. You dictate where detectors and other devices can be placed because appearance is always important to architects. I am asked to design to that criteria.  We value engineer and remove things I felt were important but are beyond the budget of the owner. Then, you go to bid and you select a contractor, usually the low bidder and occasionally a hundred thousand dollars or more below my estimate of what the job should cost. In many jobs I am not even allowed to specify the make and model of the system and am required to accept “equals” even though there is no such thing in every respect. They install a system. Then, the museum hires a guard, often at minimum wage, to operate the complex PC-based system. They train him--or maybe not. They supervise him--or maybe not. They maintain the system--or maybe not.  The museum, being a changing environment, moves walls and blocks detectors and cameras but rarely, if ever, involve us in this on-going process so we can assure that the design intent is preserved. They hang multi-million dollar works of art on the wall without any object alarm, protective glazing or physical security and invite the public, possibly including gangs, terrorists, and art thieves to approach it literally within inches. Ten years in the future a theft occurs. The museum has been paying for mandatory fine arts insurance every museum must carry, even so-called self-insured government museums, but they want my insurance company to pay their loss. What’s wrong with this picture?

When I get 100% creative control over the selection and placement of devices in galleries regardless of their visual impact on your ceilings and walls, with no budget limitation and no restrictions on what I can do to secure the works of art, and the museum agrees to conform with the prevailing standard without restrictions, and when I get to hire and train the guards who will interface with my system, provide their supervision, and when a service agreement is mandated for the life of the system that assures that it is properly maintained and functions as well as it did the day I signed off on it, then we will be able to get higher limits.   (Yes, this is a question I get from nearly every museum and architect!)

What architectural firms have you worked with in the past? 

The New deYoung Museum, San Francisco--Herzog and deMeuron

Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas--Renzo Piano

The Kimbell expansion--Renzo Piano

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum--Renzo Piano

Menil Museum--Renzo Piano

SFMOMA--Mario Botta/ HOK

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco--HOK

Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston--Raphael Moneo

Ohr O’Keefe Museum, Biloxi--Frank Gehry

Davenport Museum of Art--David Chipperfield

Anchorage Museum of Art--David Chipperfield

Cincinnati Museum of Contemporary Art--Zaha Hadid

University of Oregon Museum of Art--Hammond Beebe Rupert Ainge

Kelsey Museum, University of Michigan--Hammond Beebe Rupert Ainge

Miami-Dade Performing Art Center--Cesar Pelli Architects

Vassar College Art Gallery--Cesar Pelli Architects

Disney Family Museum--Page and Turnbull Architects

Crocker Museum, Sacramento--Gwathmey Siegel Architects

Dumbarton Oaks--Venturi Scott Brown Architects

Pennsylvania Historical Society--Venturi Scott Brown Architects

St. Petersburg Museum of Art--Raphael Vinoly

Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco--Daniel Libeskind Studio

Smithsonian Institution NMAI Collection Center--Polschak Partners

Smithsonian Arts and Industries--Ewing Cole Architects

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History--Ewing Cole Architects

Smithsonian National Museum of American History--Ewing Cole Architects

Smithsonian Museum Support Center Swing Space Project--Ewing Cole Architects

Smithsonian Environmental Resource Center--Ewing Cole Architects

. .  and many others. Note how many major firms use our services more than once.


Download our company information, bios, client list, and other information for your proposal About Steve Keller and Associates rev2219.pdf

The Architect’s Prized Building May Be Security’s Nightmare by Steve Keller .    This important article appeared in a major security publication but was also a presentation to the Smithsonian National Conference.

Securing Historic Buildings by Steve Keller 

This is an important article if your project involves historic fabric.

The Most Common Mistakes Most Museum Architect’s Make by Steve Keller  

Clearing Up Cloudy Skies--How To Hire A Security Consultant by Steve Keller   

Landscape Security by Steve Keller 

Download a copy of The Suggested Guidelines for Museum Security Here.  GuidelinesFinalRev2002.2.pdf

This is the prevailing standard for all museums of all types in North America. 

And finally, some humor we threw together at the expense of our architect friends. If you read this far, you deserve some fun! You’ll love these make-believe products that meet even the most demanding architect’s requirements for aesthetics.

The Invisi-Series Security Products--Totally Invisible