2008 Washington State Endangered Historic Properties — Nuclear Reactor Building

On May 27, Washington Trust for Historic Preservation representatives were in Tacoma to announce its annual list of Washington State’s Most Endangered Historic Places. The list dates back to 1992, and aims to raise awareness of historic properties that face demolition by redevelopment or neglect. Over the past 16 years, according to the organization, Washington Trust has placed nearly 100 threatened sites nominated by concerned citizens and organizations across the state. The organization also assists historic preservation advocates in developing strategies aimed at removing these threats.

This year’s list was presented during a press conference on the bridge deck of the 95-year-old Murray Morgan Bridge, which was one of seven endangered historic properties for 2008.

Beginning Monday, the Index has published a profile of each endangered property, as compiled by Washington Trust.

Here is what the Washington Trust had to say about the Nuclear Reactor Building in Seattle.

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Located on the University of Washington campus, the Nuclear Reactor Building represents a rare example of nuclear technology displayed for all to see. Understanding that a research reactor was essential to a competitive Nuclear Engineering program, the University completed construction of the reactor in 1961. Rather than working in secrecy, however, university officials opted for a site in close proximity to other engineering buildings. The expressive concrete structure sits in a prominent university plaza and features walls of glass that allowed observers to watch the experiments taking place within. The building itself is a fine example of modernism designed by noted architects Wendell Lovett, Gene Zema and Daniel Streissguth.

A University Master Plan adopted in 2004 called for demolition of the structure once the reactor was officially decommissioned. With that process now complete, the university has applied to the City of Seattle for a permit to demolish the reactor building. And while the university does have guidelines for assessing the historic significance of buildings on campus, the reactor is not yet 50 years old and therefore was not subject to additional review for the purpose of determining significance. Due to the efforts of the Friends of the Nuclear Reactor Building, a student group on campus hoping to see this iconic structure adaptively reused, a campaign is being waged to raise awareness of the building, have it listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and celebrate its architectural, technological, and historical significance as a symbol of the Nuclear Age.

For more information, visit http://www.wa-trust.org .