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Architecture Studio Feature: Atomic City Museum

January 6, 2014   |  

Assistant Professor of Architecture Gary Rohrbacher and his students continued their study of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) in Paducah, KY by developing concepts for an Atomic City Museum. The massive plant once produced enriched uranium for nuclear weapons and fuel for nuclear power plants. Its imminent closure leaves the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) and the US Department of Energy (USDOE) at a loss as to how to redevelop the site, to address the toxicity of the surrounding groundwater, and to maintain the thousands of jobs the plant generates. 
Professor Rohrbacher and his students, working in close association with UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), previously developed scale models of the site’s geographical features, its subsurface conditions, and the groundwater contaminant plumes. The models will be used as a tool to provoke conversation and debate among scientists and the public, with the hope of stimulating progress toward removing and abating the groundwater contamination and its sources, enabling a regeneration of the site and region.
In the fall of 2013, the design studio, facilitated by CAER, Kentucky Research Consortium for Energy and Environment (KRCEE), and USDOE, proposed an Atomic City Museum to ensure that Paducah's story is told from its auspicious beginnings and role in producing materials for nuclear weapons during the Cold War, to the plant’s decontamination and decommission. The goal is to propose hopeful futures for Paducah and other cities that face large-scale industrial abandonments. 
Students were encouraged to propose designs for a museum to tell the story of the plant’s history. They could design a 'conventional' museum, 'pop-up' museum, or a virtual museum. They were tasked with developing the most compelling way to convey Paducah’s complex and critical story. 
Participating students included:
Mark Manczyk
Allender Stewart
Stephanie Wyatt
Brooke Roberson
Spencer McNulty
Adam Logsdon
Rupa Gurung
Stephen Schwab
Allen Warford
Victor Smith
Chris WIlson
Adrian Elder
Thomas Grubbs