AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Philadelphia Forensic Science Center

This image shows the entrance to the Philadelphia Forensic Science Center.
Photo credit: Barry Halkin


  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Building type(s): Laboratory
  • Renovation of a 1929 building
  • 58,700 ft2 (5,450 m2)
  • Project scope: 4-story building
  • Urban setting
  • Completed July 2003

The new Forensic Science Center for the Philadelphia Police Department is both a state-of-the-art forensics laboratory facility and a demonstration project for green design.

The rigorous program includes a firearms unit; a crime-scene unit for gathering evidence; chemistry laboratories for drug analysis; and criminalistics and DNA laboratories for hair, fiber, and blood analysis. The Forensics Science Center handles all crime-scene evidence for the City of Philadelphia, with the exception of evidence from homicides. The Center is housed in a former K-12 school building on a site that had been abandoned for many years. It is a concrete-frame building with brick infill, originally constructed in 1929.

This project was chosen as an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project for 2006. It was submitted by Croxton Collaborative Architects, P.C., in New York City, which executed the project as a joint venture with Cecil Baker & Associates, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

The Forensic Science Center is intended as a model for future projects undertaken by the Capitol Program Office of Philadelphia.

The project's many green features include: precise mapping and load separation of areas requiring 100% outside air to minimize mechanical loads, envelope upgrades resulting in a super-insulated building, "clean" products and finishes resulting in vastly improved indoor air quality, deep daylighting achieved by ceiling configurations, and primary access to all mechanical and infrastructure systems outside of lab areas. The project also substantially increases pervious areas of the site, with vegetated swales providing bioremediation of runoff and reduction of input into city sewers.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by City of Philadelphia, Local government
  • Typically occupied by 72 people, 50 hours per person per week; and 110 visitors per week, 2 hours per visitor per week


Green framework, Simulation, Indigenous vegetation, Stormwater management, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Drought-tolerant landscaping, Insulation levels, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, Benign materials, Daylighting, Low-emitting materials

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Last updated: 4/20/2006

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

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