schedule. SSOE was able to issue multiple
bid packages for services requiring long
lead times, even before the design was
complete. The lean delivery process
and a favorable bid market resulted in
saving the client more than $900,000 in
contingencies and a condensed project
BCI also benefited from SSOE’s experience in designing approximately 3 million
square feet of LEED-certified buildings.
This building is on track to earn LEED
certification in the near future; the application process is underway.
Sustainability was a major consideration through the choice of the building’s
systems and construction materials. The
recycled content in building products
exceeds 30%—earning the facility an exemplary LEED performance credit from
the U.S. Green Building Council.
SSOE used packaged rooftop units
that treat the outside air to reduce energy
consumption in the labs. They also installed
energy-recovery run-around coils between
the lab’s central exhaust system and the
rooftop units to capture energy otherwise
dumped to the environment.
The result of various initiatives resulted in both an 18% improvement in
energy performance and 30% less water
usage than a baseline building.
DESIGNING FOR FLEXIBILITY
Forensic science is a growing, dynamic
field that requires advanced technology
to produce accurate, time-sensitive re-
sults. One challenge in designing the lab
area was the need to create convenient
spaces for scientific interaction, despite
how the various types of testing typically
required unique equipment and lab spac-
es. To address this dichotomy, flexibility
was a key factor in the design.
SSOE’s solution was to arrange the lab
spaces with logical adjacencies, design
them to flow from one to the other and
allow them to be re-configured to meet
changing requirements. Having fewer
physical barriers encouraged collaboration
and reduced the “departmental” feel of the
space. In addition, the lab area included
open areas designated for interaction.
The design team was also able to push
the level of flexibility when it came to
where and how tests could be conducted.
Because the labs are equipped with over-
The main lobby and adjoining meeting/training
area allows the public, as well as current and
potential students, controlled access to the
The chemistry instruments labs are where scientists examine physical evidence to determine the presence
or absence of illegal or harmful substances.
head snorkel exhaust extraction units,
in addition to overhead power sources,
the scientists are able to re-configure the
workspace based on the specific testing
Building owners wanted a design that
would continue to position the BCI lab
at the leading edge of forensic science
and criminal justice. It meant the building had to offer ample opportunities
for expansion to handle both a growing
volume of tests and future technologies.
That was no easy task, given the restraints of the site and the desire to complete additions with minimal disruption
to the building’s critical functions. By
studying department growth projections
and carefully planning space adjacencies,
the building was configured to allow
both external and internal expansion.
BALANCING PUBLIC ACCESS WITH
This building is one of the few forensic
labs in the country located on a university campus. It’s also one of the most
advanced. BGSU and the Ohio Attorney
General wanted to promote that aspect
by allowing the public—current and
potential students in particular—
controlled access to the building. This goal
was achieved in several ways. One was by
creating a welcoming main lobby and an
adjoining meeting/training area with a
separate entrance for staff and inmates.
The facility’s sophisticated security
system provides various levels of security,
depending on the type of space and the
activities taking place in them at any
point in time.
The public can tour the facility and
observe testing by following a defined
route lined with glass viewing windows
that are strategically positioned to preserve confidentiality and staff privacy.
The facility’s campus location was
essential to its mission as a resource to
undergraduate and graduate students of
forensic science. It also generated the need
for robust exterior security measures and
systems. The daily flow of students, staff
and visitors continually brought people
in close proximity of the building—a
building that contained sensitive, highly
confidential materials and information. In
addition, law enforcement officers regularly brought inmates to the lab in shackles for polygraph testing. Other times,
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