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An historic hot house

The University of Washington once had an operating nuclear reactor on campus. It's gone, but the modern building that housed it remains – a unique fusion of classic Northwest design and Cold War science. It's scheduled for demolition, but a grad student hopes to save it.
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The vacant Nuclear Reactor Building on the University of Washington campus. (Abby Martin)

The University of Washington once had an operating nuclear reactor on campus. It's gone, but the modern building that housed it remains – a unique fusion of classic Northwest design and Cold War science. It's scheduled for demolition, but a grad student hopes to save it.

If you thought landmarking a diner that was once a Denny's is pushing the preservation envelope, how about putting a nuclear reactor building on the National Historic Register? Before you scoff, learn just a bit about a remarkable, little-known modern building in the heart of Seattle. Today, it's called the More Hall Annex, but when it was built on the University of Washington campus in the early 1960s, it was called the Nuclear Reactor Building. Yes, that's right: it housed a small, functioning nuclear reactor situated on a prime piece of campus real estate just off Stevens Way with a view toward Union Bay. Today, it's facing demolition. Ask around, and most people are stunned to learn that there was ever a nuclear reactor on campus, just a short walk from places like the HUB and above the gym, stadium and Burke-Gilman Trail. It was built as part of a program to train students to be nuclear engineers. Planned in the late 1950s and brought online in 1961 just before the Seattle World's Fair--when the Sputnik-spurred space race had unleashed a national effort to promote science and technology to the public--it reflected the belief that our future was a nuclear future. That was echoed in the vision of "Century 21" presented at the fair, where Ford displayed the "Seattle-ite XXI

  

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An historic hot house