Olsson Associates

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Olsson helps build new crime lab

Monday, January 13, 2014

Gabrielle Lazaro, Communications

It may be a little tamer than what you see on CSI, but it is no less a welcomed reality for crime experts across the state.

Olsson’s Mechanical/Electrical group was part of the team recently selected to help build the new Nebraska State Patrol Crime Lab. This $11.2 million project will be built in Air Park’s industrial center located in northwest Lincoln.

“It’s a unique project for Nebraska,” Mechanical/Electrical Team Leader Dave Roberts said. “It’s a once-in-a-career type of project, and our team is really excited about it.”

The current Nebraska State Patrol Crime Lab has been operating in the area of 14th Street and Nebraska Highway 2 since 1973. The new lab will be twice as large as the current lab, and its new site has additional land for expansion.

Currently, the crime lab is the largest in the state and Nebraska’s only full-service crime lab. It has 24 employees and analyzes about 4,000 cases a year. This is quite an increase compared to when the crime lab originally started out with only four employees and about 400 cases a year. More crime and technological advancements, such as DNA testing, have played a part in this.

Olsson’s Mechanical/Electrical team will provide mechanical and electrical engineering services for the crime lab. Specifically, staff members will focus on safety, cost-effectiveness, flexibility to accommodate changes over time, environmental friendliness, and durability.

Dave said making sure the systems are safe and flexible so they can continue to be used when they grow in the future is most important.

“It’s all about safety when you talk about labs and keeping the people in the labs out of harm’s way,” he said.

The Mechanical/Electrical group is also teamed with DLR Group and MWL. MWL’s team members include national crime lab experts who bring expertise on how the lab needs to work and look, Dave said.

“It’s up to us to take what they’ve got and develop a design of mechanical electrical systems to provide the spaces that they need,” he said. 

According to Dave, almost all of the team’s work is done in the office, aside from a few meetings off-site to assist in construction administration and site inspections.

“They’re taking a lot of equipment with them from the current lab,” he said. “So, we’ll have to spend time verifying what’s there and making sure we provide the right utility connections to the lab equipment that they have.”

So far, the Mechanical/Electrical team has provided programming, worked to put a request for proposal (RFP) out, selected the site, and the team is now in the process of working on the lab’s layout with the architect and determining how the building will look for the specific site that’s been picked.

“We verified the program statement - tweaked it and updated it,” Dave said. “We worked with DLR to create an RFP that was sent out, and people responded with proposals on potential sites. We also assisted the owners in evaluating the proposals.”

Due to the lab’s growth, the time was right for a move. The Lincoln Airport Authority is also involved with the project, as the Authority will build the facility, which will be paid off through the State Patrol’s 20-year lease.

“With all the crime lab T.V. programs that are on right now, to get to build a new crime lab is kind of neat,” Dave said.

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