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The rapid growth of technology and forensic science tends to outpace the mobility of municipal agencies. Houston made a bold move to incorporate their forensics lab, giving them greater autonomy. This has allowed them to move quickly, independently and transparently into one of the nation’s model forensic labs. That structural move meant making a physical move as well. Forensics requires very stringent protocols for security and environmentally controlled spaces, where airflow, temperature, humidity, and contamination are closely monitored. Additionally, each of the HFSC departments submitted program guides that had to be integrated within an existing building system, rigid electrical and HVAC specifications, and a very narrow budget.

Transparency has become a priority in law enforcement, so why design a state-of-the-art forensic lab if you can’t show it off? One critical criteria for the lab was to provide the means to survey the function and efficacy of these controlled spaces without compromising their sensitive environments. Corridors and negative-pressure differential anterooms were fitted with half-height glass to facilitate walking tours to showcase one of the nation’s first local government corporations created to provide independent forensic services to law enforcement agencies. These real world heros finally have a facility that allows them to practice and demonstrate their exceptional work.

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