A $78.2 million project that should break ground by next summer will create a new Irvine campus for the OC Health Care Agency that will expand its public health lab and consolidate several related facilities in one place.

At a site on Marine Way across from the Great Park, the new headquarters will include administrative offices, a pharmacy and lab, warehouse space and an emergency operations center, OC Health Care Agency Assistant Director Mindy Winterswyk said.

The OC Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a design and construction contract with PCL Construction Services Inc., a Canadian company with offices in Irvine, to build the campus.

Winterswyk said officials realized early in the pandemic that the space used for emergency operations, which brings in staff from multiple county departments to coordinate responses, was too small. The new facilities will also provide a larger pharmacy and modern lab to replace one that was out-of-date.

“The science side of HCA is what was out of date,” and county officials already were planning an upgrade before the pandemic, said Supervisor Don Wagner, whose district includes the location of the new campus.

The administrative staff of the health agency’s Communicable Disease Control Division also has grown and needed more office space, Winterswyk said.

The new campus will bring together all the agency’s functions that don’t directly serve patients “so everyone’s in the same space and efficiently communicating,” she added.

Construction could be complete by December 2024. The county is using funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and State Enhanced Laboratory Capacity grants to help with the cost of the project.

Wagner noted the new HCA campus will be quite near the county’s second planned Be Well OC facility, which will provide crisis treatment and followup services to people with mental and behavioral health issues.

The new facility planned will be larger than the first Be Well facility in Orange, which opened last year, and also will accept anyone in need regardless of ability to pay.