The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s (DPAA) Forensic Identification Laboratory recently reached construction completion at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Oahu, Hawaii. Designed by SmithGroupJJR, the new $89 million laboratory will aid in the investigation, recovery and accounting of Americans lost during the nation’s past conflicts dating back to World War II.
SmithGroupJJR served as architect, MEP engineer and laboratory planner and programmer of the new DPAA Laboratory, the world’s largest forensic anthropology laboratory.
The 136,497-square-foot facility consolidates operations that were previously dispersed on three military locations on Oahu. The goal of the new facility is to improve efficiency, productivity and support the DPAA mission, which is to “provide the fullest possible accounting for missing personnel to their families and the nation.”
By bringing all operations under one roof, the new three-story facility demonstrates the unique function and mission of DPAA by providing advanced investigation laboratories, a highly sustainable and flexible working environment for staff and appropriate spaces for the families of the deceased.
Primary laboratory spaces include the DPAA Laboratory, the Material Evidence and Life Support Investigation Lab, DNA lab and a complete forensic medicine facility.
“The process of designing this unique facility was a humbling one for our firm,” said Mark Kranz, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, design director, SmithGroupJJR. “Having the ability to meaningfully impact DPAA’s mission was a professional honor.”
The design for the new DPAA facility acknowledges the architectural legacy of Hickam Air Force Base (now Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam), while creating a uniquely Hawaiian character. A three-story garden space with outdoor lanais provides a serene respite for staff, while a chapel-like space for family viewing hovers above. Structural concrete as well as pre-cast concrete panels, which were manufactured on the island and fashioned with an abstracted Hawaiian pattern, create the primary architectural aesthetic. A one a kind craftsman-like shade trellis welcomes families and visitors to this highly secure, yet public facility.
The DPAA Laboratory spaces within this facility occupy the third floor of the building including 70 tables for examination. Approximately half of the floor space is devoted to conducting laboratory procedures, while the remaining half consist of a family viewing room providing a serene meeting space for families to reunite with their deceased loved ones, as well as offices and administrative spaces for the DPAA Laboratory. The general design of the DPAA Laboratory conforms to Biological Safety Level Two in accordance with requirements set forth by the Center for Disease Control/National Institutes of Health.
“The unique island and Pearl Harbor setting, coupled with this significant national mission allowed for a truly one-of-a-kind facility of national significance,” Kranz added.