Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office

Architect: SmithGroup

Associated Architect: Barnes Gromatzky Kosarek Architects

Location: Austin, TX

Awarded a citation

The new Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office merges a unique set of progressive sustainable and urban design strategies to create a modern center for forensic science.

With a complex mix of state of the art autopsy, morgue and laboratory spaces, the project is designed to put Travis County at the forefront nationally in the recruitment of forensic scientists and staff. The design of the facility integrates a highly calibrated set of engineering and architectural solutions that are uniquely tuned to the Austin, Texas climate.

"Handsome solution for harvesting daylight for the laboratories, and being able to observe lab activities without breaking the security. The project leverages design to recruit and retain staff, with generous staff entrances, and opportunities for interaction and gathering. " ~ Jury comments

The two-story design forms a strong, urban edge at the street - a shaded staff terrace and public front door create an iconic civic presence for Travis County. Forensic pathologists are offered views to the surrounding landscape from their office suite, and a continuous ribbon of clerestory glazing harvests daylight for the technically-advanced spaces on ground level, the morgue and autopsy.

While the facility’s striking public front door welcomes families and visitors, scientific staff are offered their own secure front door, staff terrace and garden outside of the Investigations Suite. Laboratory and office spaces are flooded with natural daylight with interior glazing that improves staff connectivity. Regionally sourced materials create a highly durable and low maintenance structure inside and out, and highly efficient mechanical and electrical systems minimize energy usage.

Additional information

ADA: Abadi Architecture And Accessibility, Inc.

Associate Architect: Barnes Gromatzky Kosarek Architects

AV/IT/Acoustics/Security: 4b Technology Group  

Civil: Travis County Facilities Department

Cost: Project Cost Resources, Inc.

Design Architect / Prime Architect: SmithGroup

Landscape: Coleman & Associates  

Structural: Rogers Moore Engineers, LLC


Mallory Scott Cusenbery, AIA (Chair), RossDrulisCusenbery, Sonoma, California

Hon. Celeste F. Bremer, United States District Court | Southern District of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa

Michael Cox, AIA, Wold Architects and Engineers, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Julian Jaffary, B.Arch, OAA, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Thomas Pulaski, Prince William County Police Department, Woodbridge, Virginia

Arthur Thompson, AIA, SMRT, Portland, Maine

Charles W. Wend, Mount Vernon, Washington

Image credits

Travis County Medical Examiner  1

winquist photography

Travis County Medical Examiner  2

winquist photography

Travis County Medical Examiner  3

winquist photography

Travis County Medical Examiner  4

winquist photography

Travis County Medical Examiner  5

winquist photography