One prime example of the virtue of patience is the Illinois State Police Metro-East Crime Laboratory. The current facility is housed in a vintage 1930s building in Fairview Heights, Illinois. The facility was originally constructed as a tuberculosis sanatorium for the residents of the area and has been repurposed as the town hall on the first two stories. The city leases the second two stories to the Illinois State Police to house their forensic laboratory for the metro-east region. As one might imagine, a building of this age and use does not make an ideal location for a forensics laboratory, and while the organization is maintaining accreditation and is making do, a modern facility with an eye toward the safety of its occupants and evidence security as well as an efficient facility for the working of cases is long overdue.
The replacement of this facility began in its conceptual programming and planning phases in 2005 and 2006. The process was unusual by most standards as the project was planned to progress immediately from the programming and assessment phase into the design phase. Quite often programming and assessments are done in a separate phase in order for the facility to strategize funding structures in support of construction of a new facility. Progressing from programming directly into design, this process began with schematic design, continued into design development where final signoff of the design was provided by the State, and into construction documents which is the documentation required for a project to be bid to contractors and built. This phase of the project brought us to 2007 when, at 50% completion of the final phase of construction documents, the project was brought to a lurching halt. Like many states in our country, Illinois has experienced funding issues, and all non-essential construction across the State was called into question. It was at this point that the project sat in its half-completed state for three years, until 2010 when the project again received new life from the Governor to complete the construction documents. Once construction documents were completed, the project again sat and waited. Finally, in the spring of 2011, the project was put out to bid. Construction funding had been secured and the project was moving ahead.
However, everything did not progress smoothly with the process. Due to some contentions with the bid process, the project was again put on hold from summer through late fall of 2011. We are happy to report that at the end of 2011 the project has been awarded to a contractor and is scheduled to begin construction in January of 2012.
The moral of the story? Seven years is a lot of patience, but it is not unusual. You all know well that even everyday funding for equipment and new hires requires an extraordinary amount of patience. Remember to practice persistent, not passive, patience and continue to plead your case to whoever will listen.
We’ll look forward to hearing from you throughout 2012. Please come and visit us at the annual AAFS conference in Atlanta, Georgia, booth 519, February 22–24, to speak with us about your issues in person (and enter our drawing) or feel free to drop us an e-mail at email@example.com.
Susan Halla (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Senior Forensic Planner leading projects from inception to completion for Crime Lab Design which provides full architectural and engineering services for forensic and medical examiner facilities worldwide.