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Crime fighter: San Diego County's new forensic facility helps battle crime in three ways

Silver Award: The 158,000-sf addition collocates three crime-fighting functions.

June 19, 2019 |

San Diego County’s new crime lab is expected to earn LEED Gold honors. The project team used native plants and high-efficiency irrigation to slash potable water use for landscaping by 50%; installed low-flow fixtures to trim water use for indoor plumbing by 40%; and cut energy consumption by 21%. Solar arrays provide 20% of the building’s energy. More than 75% of construction waste was diverted from landfill. Photos: Matt Lindquist, Lindquist Photography.

The new San Diego County Sheriff's Crime Lab, Major Crimes, and Property & Evidence Unit Building is the latest addition to the County Operations Center in Kearney Mesa. It replaces a facility that was located in a converted hospital.

The 158,000-sf addition collocates three crime-fighting functions: the regional crime lab, which performs forensic examinations for more than 30 county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies; the major crimes division, which investigates the most serious crimes committed in the county; and the property and evidence unit, which previously was spread across two buildings.

SmithGroup designed a high-performance envelope appropriate to San Diego’s mild climate; as a result the team was able to reduce the size of the HVAC system. Degenkolb Engineers and vibration consultant Colin Gordon Associates designed the structural steel framework to just over 11 psf, well under the expected steel tonnage for a lab building.



LEED Gold certification is anticipated.

To safeguard the property and evidence unit, which is located in the basement, from moisture damage, DPR Construction waterproofed the 25-foot-high basement walls to the highest level of quality control and installed a permanent dewatering system—all work that had to be done through a record rain season.

The project team engaged in intensive planning and programming using parametric analysis to create a fully informed program. The resulting plan located the forensic activities on the west side of the building and the administrative space on the east. The laboratory itself is highly modular to allow for future adaptation.+

Building Team — Submitting firm SmithGroup (architect, MEP engineer), Owner County of San Diego, Department of General Services, Project manager PMA, SE Degenkolb Engineers, GC DPR Construction, CM Lowe Enterprises

General information — Size 158,000 sf, Construction cost $60 million, Construction time July 2016 to June 2018, Delivery method Design-build


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