Choreographing the flow of the decedent
through the facility is one of the most critical planning factors. The Travis County
design capitalizes on the sloped site to create a systematic pathway for the decedent
to move through the facility on a single
gurney, beginning with arrival into the
sally port, to the cooler, X-ray space, autopsy suite and back. Strategic BIM coordination optimized system layouts, ensuring
efficiency and accessibility.
By improving building flow and function, the design recognizes how forensics
professionals work most effectively when
they can collaborate. Pathologists are
working as teams; investigation units are
working as teams. There are many parallels to a corporate work environment
where people need to be able to interact
with one another. That communal aspect
of forensic science is very important in
serving justice and attracting talent, but
has all too infrequently been addressed
from a design standpoint.
THE FUTURE OF MEDICAL EXAMINER
The Travis County Medical Examiner’s
Building claims an important stake as an
iconic civic presence in Austin. A focus
on planning and design for this building
type strives to elevate the role of the med-
ical examiner facility befitting its mission
in the community. The building forms a
strong urban edge that is an elegant addi-
tion to the Austin streetscape, elevating the
expectation for this type of building.
The Travis County facility builds in
flexibility for changing technology and
capacity needs. (The county anticipates 40
percent population growth by 2050.) Lab
benches and instrumentation are mobile
and can be reconfigured as casework needs
change. In the morgue, a moveable bar-
rier can adjust receiving versus releasing
areas as needed. Capacity can double with
a shift in storage strategy. The building is
designed to adapt with the changing needs
of its forensic scientists, without slowing
down their work.
With an eye to the future, the design
reflects the facility’s role in becoming an
educational resource. With the larger autopsy suite, Travis County can provide essential
medical training opportunities, and is plan-
An abundance of natural light brightens autopsy suites, offices and laboratories, provided by a continuous ribbon of clerestory glazing.
An elevated observation corridor allows law enforcement investigators to witness autopsies and converse with
physicians, without entering the examination area.