If These Walls Could Talk: Creating Places That Help Keep Communities Safe
When it comes to serving clients who serve the public, KZF Design is at the leading edge. When the Hamilton County Coroner & Crime Laboratory needed larger, more efficient, and more accessible space in which to carry out its mission serving a multi-county region, KZF was proud to be selected to lead the design team, partnered with SmithGroup as our design consultant and forensics expert.
The new Hamilton County Coroner & Crime Laboratory facility – which opened May 2021 – provides an elevated level of crime fighting and public health services to Southwest Ohio. The state-of-the-art, modern facility stands in stark contrast to the former building which housed the Hamilton County Coroner & Crime Laboratory for 30 years, a dark, cramped, outdated facility which did not accommodate the workload, was inflexible for future growth, and provided virtually no daylight.
The County sought a new, modern crime lab in an easily accessible location, to consolidate operations and enhance the departments’ long-term goals. This new, energy-efficient, and light-filled collection of lab, autopsy, office, meeting, and training spaces will propel the County to the forefront of forensic medicine and offer capacity for service growth over the next 30 years.
“The difference is Dark Ages to current times and maybe somewhat futuristic,” said Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Kode Sammarco, “And just knowing that we are putting our county right there on the map in forensic science, it’s awesome.”
The large, airy entry lobby greets visitors in an open and bright environment; accommodating both grieving families and law enforcement/investigation professionals. A 150-person auditorium adjacent to the lobby supports the training, investigatory, and community outreach mission of Hamilton County Coroner & Crime Laboratory. The auditorium’s flat floor and retractable seating provide flexibility to host conferences and community events, which can also utilize the nearby exterior patio.
The Crime Laboratory contains Serology/DNA, Controlled Substances, Firearms/Tool Marks (including a firing range for ballistics testing,) Trace Evidence, Toxicology, and Latent Prints. The new facility also offers a private entrance for delivering evidence and decedents rather than in full public view as at the old facility.
The Medicolegal Autopsy area contains much larger morgue and autopsy spaces. Staff can find respite from their work and spontaneous collaborative opportunities in the light, open 3rd floor breakroom and covered roof deck which offers a chance to get some fresh air and restful views toward Blue Ash Summit Park.
The crime lab serves all law enforcement agencies within Hamilton County as well as from around the region. Sammarco says the crime lab has a turnaround of about four days, compared to about a month for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. “If you talk to a lot of the law enforcement people, they’ll tell you the crime lab is really the linchpin for law enforcement in a region,” said Sammarco, “This is something that has been a long time coming for this county and I think we are going to be doing so much more as a regional forensic science facility.”
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