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FBI's New Laboratory - Forensic Science Communications - July 2003


July 2003 - Volume 5 - Number 3

Short Communication


A sketch of the new FBI laboratory building.

FBI’s New Laboratory Building

On January 17, 2003, nearly 650 Laboratory employees began moving from FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC, to a new facility in Quantico, Virginia. All moving was done after regular business hours beginning Friday evenings and continuing until the scheduled units were completed. Most moves were done within 20-30 hours. The moves were scheduled for weekends through March until all 24 case-working, response, and administrative units were relocated.

Photos of the move into the FBI's new laboratory building.A week prior to the scheduled moves, the evidence from the case-working units was moved by armed escorts. A commercial mover was contracted to pack and move office and laboratory supplies, equipment, and furniture. To satisfy security concerns, Laboratory personnel were assigned line-of-sight duties during 12-hour shifts to watch the movers while they worked in FBI Headquarters and in the new Laboratory building.

As each van was loaded, Laboratory personnel counted and recorded the number of items. When a van was full, it was locked and tamper-proof sealed. Teams of 8-10 moving vans made the 100-mile round-trips repeatedly during the night, followed by escorts in cars that maintained line-of-sight control of the vans. Upon arrival at the new Laboratory building, the seals were verified and then the vans were unlocked.

Photo of laboratory space in the FBI's new laboratory building.
Photo of laboratory space in the FBI's new laboratory building.
Click photos for larger images.

The Laboratory’s nearly 500,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art design reveals four floors for specialized laboratories and offices and a library on the fifth floor, a 900-space parking garage, and a stand-alone central utilities plant. The facility is a model for security and evidence control with specified paths for the acceptance, circulation, and return of evidence.

Laboratory areas are separated from offices and public areas to avoid evidence contamination and provide examination areas free of distractions. Access to the laboratories is controlled with biovestibules to provide areas to change in or out of appropriate laboratory attire and serve as airlocks between laboratories and offices. The building was designed to limit exposure to biohazardous materials and curtail transmittance of airborne pathogens. The Laboratory’s infrastructure includes fiber-optic computer and communications access and an uninterrupted power supply. The new Laboratory building’s modular configuration allows for physical growth and internal reorganization.

The Laboratory’s
dedication ceremony
was held
on April 25, 2003,
and attended
by congressional,
and FBI officials.
Photo of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III
Robert S. Mueller, III
Federal Bureau of Investigation

Photo of Assistant Director of the Laboratory Division Dwight E. Adams
Dwight E. Adams
Assistant Director
Laboratory Division
Federal Bureau of Investigation

The Laboratory’s dedication ceremony was held on April 25, 2003, and attended by congressional, governmental, and FBI officials. The new FBI Laboratory was open for tours before and after the ceremony. A display of the operational response capabilities was staged on the grounds. On Saturday, April 26, Laboratory personnel were invited to bring their families to tour the building.




Photo of some of the staff of the FBI's new laboratory building.