practical architecture
Call Joel at 425-422-4276

Snohomish County Records Storage Building – Everett, Washington

Snohomish County Records Storage Building – Everett, Washington

County Records - EntryPublic Entry
Snohomish County Records Building - view from westWest side – secure storage walls
Records - storage viewMobile shelving (left) Hanging bikes (above)

Records - from NE
Snohomish County Records Storage (Sheriff’s Evidence and Ten-Year Archives) Building in Everett, Washington was built on a property acquired through tax foreclosure and funded though fire insurance claims.  Two warehouses on the site had burned, and the County had limited funding to replace them – but only for the same basic purpose, storage.  This facility became the first part of the “Campus Redevelopment Initiative” which improved the central County offices in Everett and reduced the County’s dependence on rented office and storage space.

After leading Dykeman Architect’s effort to be hired by the County for professional design services required for the project, Joel sought out training in best practices in the Property and Evidence Management field.  As a result, he is able to talk with property officers using their language and with an understanding few architects ever gain.   This new facility was a once-every-fifty-years opportunity to give the Sheriff’s Office staff a fresh start, moving them out of an undersized space shared with another jurisdiction, and allowing them to consolidate items packed away in remote storage spaces. 

For those who don’t deal in this field every day (99.95% of the population), some background:  the  Property Office deals with the preservation and safekeeping of every form of evidence collected for criminal investigations, as well as lost-and-found items turned over for return to their lawful owners.  In Snohomish County, one of their additional responsibilities is the (temporary) storage of things, including bicycles, found on Community Transit buses.  On the evidence side of things, their secure custody is intended to prevent allegations of mishandling of, or tampering with, evidence after its collection at the crime scene.  Proper preservation of items with biological markers / DNA / is an important role played.

The sizes and shapes of items to be stored, additional security needs for high-value items, and special needs for refrigerated or frozen storage were reviewed.  Each step in the processing, storage, and disposal of evidence was considered, in order to increase reliability and reduce costs.  Secure vestibule settings are provided for staff and the public entering the building, and for items being disposed leaving.  A separate work area, for sheriff’s deputies delivering evidentiary material, is provided.  Note that to prevent any allegations of tampering, once they drop something off, that’s they last they will see it, until it is used in court (if then).

In many jurisdictions, evidence storage and record archives are “out of sight, out of mind” functions, and the workers who look after them spend their days in left-over basement spaces.  As we worked with the functions to be included, and studied the site’s topography, a new approach was clearly possible.  Paper records – stored in uniform boxes on metal shelving – are kept in a basement, but the staff which works with them enjoys daylight.  Upstairs, the property officers’ office spaces offer expansive views across Port Gardner Bay to the west and north.  [As the planning started, they had a simple request for their supervisor to pass on to me: “Can we have some windows?”]  A variety of storage and handling systems from retail and manufacturing were selected: mobile, high-density mobile storage shelving (envelopes/packages), overhead rail-and-carriage (drying marijuana!), overhead conveyor system (hanging bicycles) for project’s unique needs, and heavy-duty forklift accessed racks for bulky or heavy items.  Particular attention was paid to avoiding double handling of items – no boxes piled into bins stacked on shelves, here.
During the planning process, it became clear that the elevation change on the property would allow creation of a full-size lower floor / basement for archival storage of paper records.  This area was carefully planned to use standard archive box shelving — row after row after row of it.  With an increasing rate of “freedom of information” retrieval requests, the County needed a straightforward way to organize and file material which would not increase staffing needs.

Special acknowledgement for the roles played by Thomas Tredway, architect, with the details of the exterior, and by Seta Sakkal, with the interior equipment planning.  To paraphrase the book title, “It takes a lot of architects to build a village“.  Great projects often have great clients, and the County’s Project Manager, Tim Dore, took great pains behind the scenes to make the project a success.

This 36, 670 square foot project bid for $4,425,000 and was completed with $41,684 additional (<1%) in Change Orders.  Comprehensive, coordinated documents make a difference for budgets!

Leave a Reply