The Harris County Institute for Forensic Sciences is comprised of two divisions: medical examiner and crime laboratory. The medical examiner conducts investigations and preserves evidence. The crime laboratory analyzes evidence utilizing drug chemistry, forensic toxicology, firearms identification, trace evidence, and forensic genetics. Due to a significant growth in the number of cases these two division must process annually, the county decided to construct a nine-story, 208,000 SF tower to house both divisions and foster collaboration. Harris County selected Vaughn to serve as the construction manager-at-risk for this important project.
The county utilizes the facility to attract additional scientists and doctors in the pursuit of justice. The tower allows scientists to conduct autopsies, test evidence, and offer expanded services including ballistics work and latent fingerprint testing in a discreet setting. The facility provides approximately 140,000 SF of integrated clinical, laboratory, administrative, public, and training space to aide in scientific investigation, research, training, and mentoring utilizing state-of-the-art technology. The building features a single-story morgue with three decedent coolers, each of which can hold up to 120 decedents. The building also houses an indoor firing range and tank capable of testing calibers up to 50 BMG, a 150-person lecture hall, and long-term evidence storage freezers. The facility was built to LEED standards and pursued certification.