McCarthy Building Companies Completes Construction of Johnson County Medical Examiner Facility


3D Virtual Mockups Used to Simulate Functionality During Construction

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. has completed construction of the Johnson County Medical Examiner Facility, a 32,000-square-foot, single-story building designed to meet the highest standards of the National Association of Medical Examiners (N.A.M.E.). Located at 11894 S. Sunset Drive in Olathe, Kansas, the facility is located in the heart of the Johnson County Government Campus and is adjacent to the crime lab as well as other county buildings.

The $21-million energy-efficient facility broke ground in December 2018 and opened in August 2020.  The new facility will help increase autopsy rates to meet appropriate national benchmarks and scientific requirements, as well as provide reliable data for public health officials to identify trends and emerging diseases. Its staff includes toxicologists, a medical death investigator, autopsy technicians and administrative staff.

Throughout construction, the McCarthy team demonstrated the efficiency and value of using advanced technology to build and refine the space. 

3D Technology Enabled Medical Examiner to virtually experience completed space during construction

This included McCarthy’s three-dimensional (3D) virtual construction mockups that simulated actual workspace areas, enabling Dr. Diane C. Peterson, Johnson County coroner and chief medical examiner, to be directly involved in designing the autopsy surgery space to make sure everything she needs is positioned at the right height and in the ideal location. This included making design refinements to fine-tune the space during construction, thus avoiding significant costs to retrofit after the building was completed.

“While physical mockups are commonly used to test and fine-tune the functionality of spaces prior to construction, they are not practical on budget-conscious projects or for unique spaces that are not replicated many times within the same facility,” said Eric Dill, project manager for McCarthy Building Companies-Kansas City. “But virtual mockups enable construction teams to actively engage stakeholders in the design and construction process.”

The 3D modeling technology used by McCarthy’s in-house Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) team has a lifespan beyond construction, as Johnson County will be able to access and use the 3D model to help facilitate future maintenance and upgrades to maximize long-term value.

McCarthy’s use of virtual design and construction technology also resulted in significant time and cost savings for Johnson County by ensuring efficient coordination of all mechanical, engineering and plumbing (MEP) systems to meet different requirements for the toxicology lab, autopsy lab and morgue space. The energy recovery ventilation system delivers 100 percent fresh air to autopsy and lab interior spaces while extracting energy from exhaust air to help heat and cool the building before releasing exhaust air outside.

Large observation area is significant feature

Features of the building include a light-filled glass public entrance that leads to secure areas for staff and lab work, two conference rooms, an observation area and a multipurpose room. To ensure safety and privacy, the receiving area is located behind a secure fence and through a sally port, a fully-enclosed and secure space within the building.

In addition to McCarthy Building Companies, the project team included PGAV Architects, SmithGroup, Henderson Engineering, McClure Engineering and Confluence.

McCarthy Building Companies/Kansas City

McCarthy has been working for more than 30 years in Kansas City and established a permanent office in 2013.  Since then, then the local office has since grown to more than 100 employees. With projects from healthcare to industrial, community centers and sophisticated laboratories, the company’s Kansas City team pairs intelligent solutions with built-in know-how to build the most complex facilities. 

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is the oldest privately held national construction company in the country – with more than 150 years spent collaborating with partners to solve complex building challenges on behalf of its clients. With approximately 5,000 salaried employees and craft professionals, the firm has offices in St. Louis, Atlanta; Collinsville, Ill.; Kansas City, Kan.; Omaha, Neb.; Phoenix; Las Vegas; Denver; Dallas, Houston; and San Diego, Newport Beach, San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento, Calif. McCarthy is 100 percent employee owned. More information about the company is available online at or by following the company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram.

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