McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. has completed construction of the Johnson County Medical Examiner Facility, a 32,000-square-foot, single-story building in Olathe, Kansas. Located at 11894 S. Sunset Drive in Olathe, the facility is located in the heart of the Johnson County Government Campus and is adjacent to the crime lab as well as other county buildings.
The $21-million energy-efficient facility broke ground in December of 2018 and opened in August of 2020. The new facility will help increase autopsy rates to meet appropriate national benchmarks and scientific requirements, as well as provide reliable data for public health officials to identify trends and emerging diseases. Its staff includes toxicologists, a medical death investigator, autopsy technicians and administrative staff.
Throughout construction, the McCarthy team demonstrated the efficiency and value of using advanced technology to build and refine the space.
This included McCarthy’s three-dimensional (3D) virtual construction mockups that simulated actual workspace areas, enabling Dr. Diane Peterson, Johnson County coroner and chief medical examiner, to be directly involved in designing the autopsy surgery space to make sure everything she needs is positioned at the right height and in the ideal location. This included making design refinements to fine-tune the space during construction, thus avoiding significant costs to retrofit after the building was completed.
“While physical mockups are commonly used to test and fine-tune the functionality of spaces prior to construction, they are not practical on budget-conscious projects or for unique spaces that are not replicated many times within the same facility,” said Eric Dill, project manager for McCarthy Building Companies-Kansas City. “But virtual mockups enable construction teams to actively engage stakeholders in the design and construction process.”
The 3D modeling technology used by McCarthy’s in-house Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) team has a lifespan beyond construction, as Johnson County will be able to access and use the 3D model to help facilitate future maintenance and upgrades to maximize long-term value.
McCarthy’s use of virtual design and construction technology also resulted in significant time and cost savings for Johnson County by ensuring efficient coordination of all mechanical, engineering and plumbing (MEP) systems to meet different requirements for the toxicology lab, autopsy lab and morgue space. The energy recovery ventilation system delivers 100 percent fresh air to autopsy and lab interior spaces while extracting energy from exhaust air to help heat and cool the building before releasing exhaust air outside.
Features of the building include a light-filled glass public entrance that leads to secure areas for staff and lab work, two conference rooms, an observation area and a multipurpose room. To ensure safety and privacy, the receiving area is located behind a secure fence and through a sally port, a fully-enclosed and secure space within the building.
In addition to McCarthy Building Companies, the project team included PGAV Architects, SmithGroup, Henderson Engineering, McClure Engineering and Confluence.