LAB OF THE YEAR: SPECIAL MENTION
Building a program, not just a lab
The District of Columbia Consolidated Forensic Laboratory (CFL) merges the forensic-based activities of agencies that
traditionally work together but operate independently. The LEED Platinum, 351,000 gsf,
$145 million building totals six stories above
grade and two below. Owned by the D.C.
Department of General Services, the city leadership decided to combine the District’s public
safety forensic science and public health agencies into one building.
In reviewing the entry, the Lab of the Year
judging panel noted that forensic science buildings typically result in floorplans with numerous, small, closed rooms and little or no interaction between departments. The inter-agency collaboration, co-location of forensic science units,
and the inclusion of modern laboratory design
while still maintaining the proper protocols and
chain of custody earned the D.C. Consolidated
Forensic Laboratory the 2013 Laboratory of the
Year Special Mention honors.
HOK, Washington, D.C. (architect, lab planner,
interior designer, landscape architect); McKissack
& McKissack, Washington, D.C. (office interior
architecture); Philip S. Cooper & Associates,
Washington, D.C. (production support);
Vanderweil Engineers, Boston (
mechanical/elec-trical engineer); JVP Engineers, Washington,
D.C. (plumbing engineer); ReStl Designers,
Washington, D.C. (structural engineer); Delon
Hampton & Associates, Silver Spring, Md. (civil
engineer); Whiting-Turner, Baltimore, Md.
(CM); Working Buildings, Atlanta (
commissioning agent); Froehling & Robertson, Sterling, Va.
(environmental consultant); System Planning
Corporation, Arlington, Va. (security consultant);
S.C. Myers & Associates, Washington, D.C. (cost
consultant); Atlantic Consulting, Millersville, Md.
(vertical transportation consultant); Rolf Jensen
& Associates, Laurel, Md. (life safety consultant);
Polysonics Corporation, Warrenton, Va. (
acousti-cal/AV consultants); Rowan Williams Davies and
Irwin, Ontario, Canada (microclimate/exhaust
dispersion consultant); MCLA Architectural
Lighting Design, Washington, D.C. (lighting
design); Colin Gordon Associates, Brisbane, Calif.
(vbration consultant); Vita Tech Electromagnetics,
Fredericksburg, Va. (EMI/RFI consultant);
Thermo Scientific, Two Rivers, Wis. (lab casework/fume hoods); Labconco, Kansas City, Mo.
(biosafety cabinets); Mopec, Oak Park, Mich.
(mortuary equipment); Misonix, Farmingdale,
N. Y. (fuming chamber); Savage Range Systems,
The project team for the CFL aimed to elevate the level of forensic science while raising the roof on a new
building. (Photo: HOK)
Inc., Westfield, Mass. (firing range equipment);
Kinetics Sound Control, Dublin, Oh.(firing range
sound panels, floor system); Team Fabrication,
Inc., West Falls, N. Y. (bullet recovery system);
Steris Corporation, Mentor, Oh. (autoclaves,
glssswasher); Harris Environmental Systems,
Inc., Andover, Mass. (environmental room);
Arcoplast, Peters, Mo. (glass-fiber composite
panel); Germfree Laboratories, Ormond Beach,
Fla. (BSL- 3 pass-thru)
With plans to house the Metropolitan Police
Department Forensic Investigation Units, the
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and the
Department of Health Public Heath Lab, the
CFL building had to support shared science
while still protecting proper protocols. The
building population was planned for 230 with
growth up to 400.
As the construction neared completion,
District of Columbia officials restructured
the agencies to better support the facility consolidation. The newly formed Department of
Forensic Sciences created an agency to manage
and coordinate the shared services, create new
services, and transition to a workforce composed of civilian scientists.
Forensic services at the CFL include crime
scene investigation, firearms examination,
latent fingerprints, photography, DNA, trace
analysis, controlled substances, questioned
documents, and computer forensics. Public
Health services include communicable dis-
eases, food testing, BSL- 3 lab, and newborn
genetic screening. Medical examination facili-
ties cover autopsy, histology, and toxicology.
Design for the CFL was completed in the
Summer of 2008 with construction underway
by the Fall of 2009. The building was completed
in August 2012 and occupied in October 2012.
The CFL worked to develop an integrated
and adaptable model for ongoing delivery
of high through-put diagnostics supporting
public health and safety in the District of
Columbia. Not stopping at supporting and
raising forensic science at the local level, the
program encompassed goals to become a
national model facility for peer institutions as
a basis for functional relationships and inter-agency collaboration.
The team was consistently challenged by
the idea that the District wanted to build a
program, not just a laboratory. It needed to be