From fibers to fingerprints, forensic students and law enforcement are benefiting from their showpiece new home.
The University of Central Oklahoma is home to one of the top forensic science programs in the country, meaning hundreds of would-be “CSI” professionals flock to the campus each year. Law enforcement investigators from around the United States and abroad also visit the campus regularly to attend forensics-related seminars and workshops. This combined growing demand created an urgent need for a new, state-of-the-art facility ─ one that could provide the latest technology and teaching spaces critical to the success of these specialized students.
Since the chosen building site was located at the entrance to the university, there also was additional pressure to create an attractive structure that matched the architectural theme of the broader campus.
A number of special features make the single-story institute truly unique. A large multi-tiered lecture hall accommodates 170 people and contains cutting-edge audiovisual equipment, allowing for extremely high-quality interactive classes on site and live streamed. A custom designed computer room with a raised floor is provided for the teaching of cyber forensics. Another adaptable large theater area, complete with bleacher seating, is used to recreate a variety of crime scenes for the purpose of student education. An iconic central rotunda, framed by majestic white pillars and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, is topped with a cupola and connects both wings of the building. This striking area serves multiple functions as a lobby, student gathering spot and a place for networking, banquets and other special events. An adjoining covered exterior courtyard provides an additional student gathering place and break area. Rounding out the rest of the building are classrooms, administrative and faculty offices, plus three 750 SF break-out seminar rooms.
Since its completion, enrollment in the forensic program has nearly quadrupled, and the new building is a significant contributor to that dramatic increase. To accommodate growth, the Forensic Science Institute is designed for future expansion to include an adjacent mirror-image, multi-story Phase 3. Through university faculty, outside consultants and an affiliation with the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office, numerous opportunities and synergies will be created through the Institute’s teaching, law enforcement and investigative skills, resulting in a tremendously unique City of Edmond/UCO forensics and investigative hub.
(Even though they won’t be housed there, the school and the Medical Examiner’s office still maintain a working partnership.)