Making Communities Safer Through Forensic Science — By Design

In 2014 and 2015, the City of Henderson received grants totaling $170,000 for a forensic laboratory "needs assessment", and subsequent development of planning and preliminary design concepts for a new forensic laboratory. The funds, provided by NevadaCSI via the Henderson Community Foundation, were designated specifically for the purpose of determining the type of facility immediately needed to continue safe operations, and to determine projected workloads and related needs for work/office space, facility equipment, forensic instrumentation, and personnel needs. The grants served to start the formal planning and preliminary design of a new Forensic Science Center, and to provide valuable information for use in this fundraising project. An education/training component was integrated into many of the planning discussions, and those discussions are continuing between NevadaCSI and the Nevada State College.

Preliminary Diagram/Design Concept Details


  • Authors PGAL & MWL
  • Date completed: December 31, 2015
  • Contributor: City of Henderson
  • Contributor: NevadaCSI

Design Workshops

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The City of Henderson contracted with Tate Snyder Kimsey and Crime Lab Design, to conduct a forensic laboratory feasibility/needs assessment for a minimum ten-year period. Subsequently, the City contracted with PGAL LLC architecture/engineering and McClaren Wilson & Laurie (MWL) laboratory design architectural/planning firm, to validate the information from the needs assessment, and to commence the Schematic Design for a new Forensic Science Center. These two projects were completed in September 2014 and December 2015, respectively.

Design Workshops

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Numerous meetings and workshops were conducted. Participants included PGAL and MWL architects/engineers; Henderson City Architect, Forensic Lab scientists, examiners, analysists, and management; crime scene analysts (CSIs); evidence staff; Nevada State College (NSC) Management and key staff; and a representative of NevadaCSI. An integral part of the meetings included plans for college/university educational partnership(s).

Design Team - Workgroup changes

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Changes were made on the spot during discussions between the members of the design team and various workgroups. Space is premium and nothing can be wasted... however, changes to functional areas were carefully considered to avoid any negative affect on operational capabilities and related efficiency/effectiveness.

Spatial/Layout Planning for Multiple Forensic Disciplines within the Center

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Conceptual designs and project illustrations provide the scale and relationships of the project components and include a conceptual site plan, preliminary building plans, sections, and elevations.

The product concept allows construction in phases depending on availability of funding. The faster funding is received, the more that can be saved due to "economies of scale".

Conceptual Designs

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Phase 1: An approximately 22,187 gross square feet (gsf) laboratory facility to support current needs that the small Henderson lab does not allow.

Phase 2: Approximately 7,914 gsf building expansion to Phase 1. This phase includes DNA/Forensic Biology, Firearms, and Arson labs.

Crime Scene Investigation/Analysis (CSI) area: Approximately 10,516 gsf building expansion to include vehicle processing bays and other evidence processing spaces, as well as the related offices and locker rooms.

Education/Training & Homeland Security

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An approximately 6,450 gsf wing of the Center will provide co-work space to support education and training. This phase includes training/teaching labs, training/teaching evidence analysis/processing rooms, auditorium-style training/meeting space, and related class and office spaces.

Nevada State College (NSC) expressed an interest in partnering with the City to explore the possibility of incorporating an educational component into the Center. Nevada State College, under the authority of the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education, is developing a 509 acre campus adjacent to City property. Co-locating the Center on or near the campus presents a myriad of opportunities for the project, including the creation of a skilled workforce pipeline and the prospect of future growth.

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The 3D architectural rendering prior to the construction of the existing buildings on the NSC campus. Source: Ledcor group - Elko, Nevada, retrieved 6-23-16