Land Development

Houston, Texas


Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences Building

Innovation. LJA was hired to provide site work on the new 3.2-acre Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciencescomplex. Our civil engineering design services included grading, drainage, traffic, utility extensions, and construction administration. Careful consideration was given to the use of the property and localized flood protection, and the building elevation was raised to ensure safe refuge during extreme events. In addition to sensitivity to flooding events, the complex was designed with multiple sustainable design measures, positioning the Forensic Sciences Building as a candidate for LEED Silver certification.

Engineering strategies employed reinforce goals for energy efficiency and wellness. Air-handlers are grouped at the top floor of the building and high flume exhaust fans are positioned at the roof, enhancing exhaust fume dispersion. The combined positions facilitate an energy exchange process reducing costly energy consumption for required ventilation amounts to maintain safety, comfort levels, and equipment temperatures in a laboratory building in the Gulf Coast region. All major systems have redundancy included at the N+1 level to allow continued safe operation even if a piece of equipment fails.

Phase 1 of this critically-important project included a nine-story, 210,000 SF tower to house large scale laboratories, morgues, and training spaces, and to provide ample room for administration. Green design features such as natural light, windows overlooking green spaces, ventilation and cooling systems, indoor air quality, and minimal outdoor irrigation were key to the environmentally-friendly design. Other sustainable features include nature views for almost all work spaces; low-emitting indoor finishes of materials such as non-VOC paints; flexible furniture with adjustable height tables to accommodate active changes in work and study modes; water conservation with low flow fixtures and reduction of irrigation at the native planting areas, and use of regional materials. The building exterior is clad in brick panels marked by ribbon windows, and is designed for maximize flexibility, natural light, and occupant wellness. The laboratory, morgue, administrative, public and teaching/training spaces, and unfinished shell space available for expansion comprise Phase I of the project. Laboratory spaces enjoy perimeter windows, while non-laboratory functions are concentrated in the splayed corners.

Phase Two is a four-story building for future expansion to accommodate the growing needs of the Harris County community, as well as the agencies and families served by the Institute.

For more information regarding this project, please contact Greg Patch, PE at


Site Development



Drainage Design

Traffic Studies


Construction Administration