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Friday, Dec 9, 2022
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$85M Building Under Construction for Medical Examiner

Just a few hundred feet from the construction site of the new County Operations Center, ProWest Constructors is putting up an $85 million structure to house the San Diego County medical examiner’s office.

The Wildomar-based builder started work on the two-story, 84,000-square-foot facility in Febraury 2008, with completion estimated by year-end.

The facility will also contain veterinarian offices. The new site will be four times larger than the current space.

The local office of Harley Ellis Devereaux designed the building and is serving as mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer.

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The construction and design team includes the local office of Degenkolb as structural engineer; the local office of RBF Consulting as civil engineer; San Diego-based KTU+A Planning + Landscape Architecture as landscape architect; the Solana Beach office of Project Management Advisors as project manager; and Michigan-based Crime Lab Design as laboratory designer.


Seeking Synergy

“Hopefully there will be synergy between scientists and colleagues in common areas,” said Chris Knoll, project manager with Harley Ellis Devereaux. The firm also designed a forensic laboratory for the Phoenix Police Department and an Illinois State Police Forensic Lab.

The medical examiner’s space will include a state-of-the-art autopsy suite, criminal case evidence storage, records storage, administrative space, as well as a counseling and bereavement center.

Officials say the facility will provide additional space for body examinations and storage, laboratories, education and training.

“This office is outdated and cramped,” said Glenn N. Wagner, the county’s chief medical examiner. “There are 3.2 million people in the county and about 21,000 deaths in the county per year. This office investigates 11,000 of those.”

The medical examiner’s office works with local law enforcement agencies, including the Sheriff’s Department, Police Department and district attorney’s office, to investigate deaths suspected to be homicides, suicides, accidents and unexpected natural deaths.

“At present time, this project is ahead of schedule and under cost,” said Wagner. “We will have a phased move over several weeks when it is completed.”

Sixty employees within five divisions , investigations, pathology, toxicology, examination and administration , work at the current 16,000-square-foot center, also in Kearny Mesa.

The current facility, built in 1963, has been expanded several times.


New Vet Space

The new veterinary space will include necropsy rooms for large and small animals, refrigeration and storage, laboratories and library space.

The county veterinarian checks domestic animals and wildlife for such diseases as rabies, salmonella and other pathogens affecting animals and transmissible to humans.

The new building was designed to meet U.S. Green Building Council LEED environmental standards.

When completed, it will have rooftop solar panels and an elaborate ventilation system.

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