The stainless steel gleams, and each laboratory space in the new Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences (HCIFS) facility is bathed in natural light. After nine years of planning, the building is complete, and the official ribbon cutting is scheduled for March 16.
A running theme during a tour of the 210,000-square-foot building Wednesday was how much better-suited the facilities are for the work the institute does, according to executives, laboratory managers and architecture experts.
The nine-story building at 1861 Old Spanish Trail houses both the Harris County medical examiner and crime laboratory services.
The layout of the building enables seamless flow between administrative, clinical, laboratory, public and teaching/training areas, said Luis Sanchez, M.D., executive director and chief medical examiner for HCIFS.
And new features of the building include an auditorium to host training and educational programs, a separate forensic anthropology research area and a 35-foot-long firearms range where technicians can test fire arms in two areas simultaneously. An enlarged autopsy room can now accommodate seven forensic pathologists, whereas the larger autopsy room in the old space could handle only four. In total, there are 16 autopsy suites in the new building.
Robert Owens, associate principal for Page Southerland Page Inc., the architect in charge the project, speculated that the old space was roughly half of the size, making a bigger facility a welcome change for the institute, which investigates approximately 300 deaths per month.
The forensic emergency management area was modeled after the Houston Emergency Services center, complete with giant screens showing maps, a log of calls and real-time traffic cameras. The office takes about 11,000 calls per year and processes about 2,500 scenes per year, according to Jason Wiersema, Ph.D., director of forensic emergency management at HCIFS.
A drug chemistry laboratory that looks like it was lifted straight from a “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” episode processes 10,000 cases per year and has approximately 200 cases in progress at any given time, said Kay McClain, manager of the drug chemistry lab. However, while the instruments can test samples within minutes, crimes are not typically solved in 60 minutes like they are on “CSI,” Sanchez said.
The $75 million building was funded by a voter-approved bond in November 2007, and construction of the new facility began in fall of 2014. The new digs come just in time for the forensic science institute to celebrate its 60th anniversary.
In addition to the new facility, HCIFS also has a DNA laboratory in the John P. McGovern Campus at Holcombe Boulevard and Almeda Road.
@bigdock Great news! Sending you our best wishes.
If you love citrus, you will really love these recipes with options from salad to stir-fry.
Women with darker skin can get #skincancer, too. Our Dr. Susan Chon shares what you should know: https://t.co/02BBg4YNmw @thirdAGE #endcancer
Overcoming #cancer shapes 3 MD Anderson employees’ perspectives: https://t.co/cUt1DJj9F1 #endcancer https://t.co/FmZgRjUw0b
University of Houston@UHouston
Legacy is planting seeds in a garden you never get to see. Tonight we’re celebrating the legacy of @UHValentiSchool. Thank you @seguntheprogram for being MC and @jdbalart for the Impact Award https://t.co/tBmWEylyiU
Entering a new era: learn more about TMC3, the new translational research campus. https://t.co/pCLaez3zts
Be a part of the nation's largest autism research study. Get in-person help with signing up for SPARK for Autism at the Houston Museum of Natural Science during their sensory friendly event April 28. http://bit.ly/SPARKevents
An Army Veteran confronts his own trauma with a camera https://t.co/qoMYFKKZjq via @nytimes
In this interview with @ktrhnews, Dr. James Langabeer of @UTHealth_SBMI and @UTEmergencyMed discusses the decline in prescriptions for addictive painkillers: https://t.co/CMlYcJngA4
At 10 months old, David was so weak and behind in development that he couldn't even sit up. But now the bubbly 4-year-old is growing fast and swinging baseball bats. Read about his miraculous journey w/@UTPhysicians CARE Clinic. https://t.co/3chQLYaeex #ManyFacesOfUTHealth https://t.co/LZptSVgsDY
RT @UTCVSurgery: Another great free medical screening service brought to you by @UTPhysicians! Check out Dr Stuart Harlin on this morning’s…
Veterans serving Veterans: Researchers who served. This @usairforce Veteran volunteered as a pararescueman in Vietnam, and then went on to serve others with a career in orthopedic research. https://t.co/2NQHhSTmQx via @VeteransHealth on #VAntagePoint
At 10 months old, David was so weak and behind in development that he couldn't even sit up. But now the bubbly 4-year-old is growing fast and already swinging baseball bats. Read about his miraculous journey with the UT Physicians CARE Clinic. #ManyFacesOfUTHealth
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran Willard Knockum Jr. Willard served from 1964 to 1971 during the Vietnam War. Willard joined the Navy in 1964. He was trained in counterinsurgency and survival surveillance reconnaissance and weapons at the Marine Base Camp in Pendleton, California. He became a Boatswain Mate, a role that fulfills a variety of tasks such as lookout duty, training and directing maintenance duties, damage control, operating and maintaining equipment and more. Willard also participated in North Atlantic Treaty Organization and anti-submarine warfare exercises. Willard served on the destroyer USS Fox 779 before he deployed to Vietnam in 1969 during the Vietnam War where he served in Saigon and Dong Tam. He was assigned to Military Assistance Command, a group of assault river boats that patrolled hostile waters around the Army Base at Dong Tam. For his service, Willard was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. Willard now lives in Folsom, Louisiana as a retired United Postal Service mail handler. Thank you for your service, Willard!
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is @USNavy Veteran Willard Knockum, Jr https://t.co/7lDPTdSI86