AKA: U.S. Government, United States Bureau of Reclamation, Grand Coulee Dam, Grand Coulee, WA

Structure Type: built works - infrastructure - transportation structures - dams

Designers: Consolidated Builders, Incorporated, (firm); Wright, Howard S., (HSW) Construction Company (firm); Marcel Lajos Breuer (architect); Henry J. Kaiser (building contractor/developer); George Schuchart (building contractor); Howard H. Wright (building contractor); Howard S. Wright (building contractor/developer)

Dates: constructed 1933-1942

Excavation work began on the Grand Coulee Dam 07/16/1933, at the height of the Depression. Funding for the completion of the dam was frequently in question during the Depression. In late 06/1937, the U.S. Congress passed a $41,566,600 bill for Western reclamation projects that included $13,000,000 for the completion of Grand Coulee. Henry J. Kaiser, the Oakland, CA, industrialist, led a consortium of construction contractors, Consolidated Builders, Incorporated, that built the gravity dam, designed to bring cheap, hydroelectric power and irrigated water to farmers in the Pacific Northwest. The main part of the dam was finished in 01/1942, but work continued on it all the way up to 1983. Grand Coulee provided the inexpensive electricity needed to produce aluminum used in Boeing Company aircraft, and the dam fed the extensive power needs of the Hanford Nuclear site beginning during the Manhattan Project of World War II.

The Grand Coulee Dam is the largest reinforced concrete dam in North America; it measures 5,223 feet in length and 550 feet high.

A northeast portion of the 1930s dam was demolished to make room for Powerhouse #3, added in between 1966-1974. The addition of the third Powerhouse added 6 new turbines and 6 generators, three 600 megawatt and three 805 megawatt units. A pumped-storage hydroelectricity plant, composed of 6 pump generators, was finished in 1973; it could boost the dam's production by 314 megawatts during peak-usage periods. Hungarian-born architect Marcel Breuer (1902-1981) served as Consulting Architect for this later work.

PCAD id: 8665