AKA: University of Washington, Seattle, More Hall Annex, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Chittock, Robert W., Landscape Architect (firm); Jentoft and Forbes, General Contractors (firm); Lovett, Wendell H., Architect (firm); Streissguth, Daniel, Architect (firm); The Artists and Architects Group (TAAG) (firm); Torrence, Gerard, Structural Engineer (firm); Zema and Streissguth, Associated Architects (firm); Robert W. Chittock (landscape architect); Forbes (building contractor); Jentoft (building contractor); Wendell Harper Lovett (architect); Spencer Moseley (artist); Daniel Michener Streissguth (architect); Gerard R. Torrence (structural engineer); Gene Kapiton Zema (architect)

Dates: constructed 1961, demolished 2016

2 stories

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Jefferson Road Northwest
University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195

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Overview

Collaboratively designed by University of Washington faculty from architecture, art and engineering departments, this building housed a 100-kilowatt research reactor that operated from 04/1961 until 06/1988. Reflecting the period's enthusiasm for the potential of nuclear power, the designers made the walls of the reactor transparent, revealing the mysteries of this form of energy to the public. This was one of the very few research reactors housed in glass, and its visibility underscored the university's eagerness to display its latest high-tech research tool.

Building History

The building was designed primarily by a consortium of UW professors and alumni, including Wendell Lovett, Daniel Streissguth, Gene Zema, Gerard Torrence (UW structural engineer), and Spencer Moseley (of the UW Art Department) who comprised TAAG, "The Architects and Artists Group."

An experiment in 1972 caused the release of a small amount of plutonium dust. Radiation on the floor was covered with new paint and tiles; these were stripped away in 2006. The reactor in the More Hall Annex ceased energy production in 1988; the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of Washington dissolved four years later. Fuel rods from the facility were buried in Idaho c. 1990. The reactor was originally constructed by A.M.F. Decontamination of the building and final demolition of the reactor occurred in 2006; this last clean-up step was done using state funding. The Governor's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation will review the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Nuclear Reactor Building at its 10/17/2008 meeting to be held at Heritage Hall, 203 Market Street, Kirkland, WA.

Decontamination of the soils beneath an enormous underground diesel fuel reservoir next to the nuclear reactor building has not been deemed necessary, as the price of remediation would be very high. The presence of the diesel fuel reservoir narrowed the possible locations for a new computer science building planned for the site, adding more pressure to demolish the More Hall Annex. Additionally, computer science administrators wanted this site because they hoped to build a skybridge to connect the existing Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering to a new facility. Why a costly and obtrusive skybridge over Stevens Way would be necessary in the mild Seattle climate is unclear.

Building Notes

The building housed an Argonaut research reactor, one of approximately 10 designed at the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, IL anddistributed to major research universities nationally. During the Cold War, the Russian launch of Sputnik in 1957 greatly embarrassed the America

Alteration

Plans called for the demolition of the nuclear reactor building in summer 2008, although no specific plans for a replacement structure had been planned for the site as of 03/04/2008. The University of Washington Board of Regents voted to demolish the More Hall Annex at their meeting on 02/2016. (See Madelyn Reese, "Board of Regents votes to demolish More Hall Annex," The Daily of the University of Washington, vol 124, no. 90, 03/01/2016, p. 1.) The new computer science building was deemed vital to the state's economic future.

Demolition

Demolition was evaded in 2008. The State of Washington Governor's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation met in Kirkland, WA, on 10/17/2008, and agreed to add the UW Nuclear Reactor Building to the state's historic register. This body also recommended to the National Park Service, the administrative body responsible for the National Register of Historic Places, that it fulfilled at least two criteria for historic status. The National Park Service agreed with the state board's recommendation.

The University of Washington Capital Programs Office decided that the building had no historical merit, although a number of architectural history experts disagreed. Demolition began on 07/19/2016. Presumably, the large, underground diesel fuel tank located nearby to the Nuclear Reactor Building will be remediated at the time of this demolition.

PCAD id: 6067