A museum exhibit profiling a largely untold aspect of a turning point of the 20th century opened today in the U.S. capital, sponsored in part by Bechtel, a global leader in engineering, procurement, and construction. The new exhibit, called Secret Cities: The Architecture and Planning of the Manhattan Project, examines the innovative design and construction of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Hanford, Washington, and Los Alamos, New Mexico; looks at daily lives within the cities, and addresses each city’s development since the conclusion of the Project.
Seventy-five years ago, the United States began an unprecedented, highly classified transformation of open spaces, ranchland, and rural farmland in three states. In a race against enemies in World War II, the U.S. rapidly built nuclear reactors, factories, laboratories, roads, utilities, and other industrial facilities to support the Manhattan Project – the nation’s effort to design and build the world’s first atomic weapons.
The effort also needed housing, dining, medical facilities, infrastructure, and other facilities for the tens of thousands of workers suddenly occupying Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Hanford. These overnight communities and their continuing importance as centers of research and technology are the focus of the exhibit. Bechtel’s participation recognizes the company’s ongoing presence in national security or environmental cleanup projects at each of the three sites.
“We believe there is another untold story of Hanford, Los Alamos, and Oak Ridge, the story of contemporary cities driving American scientific progress,” said Barbara Rusinko, president of Bechtel’s Nuclear, Security, & Environmental global business unit. “At Hanford, thousands of workers are cleaning up the environment from those decades of nuclear defense activities. And Los Alamos and Oak Ridge are still going strong, making contributions in breakthrough discoveries and national security science. They’re modernizing their infrastructure with sustainable practices for the next 75 years and Bechtel teams are proud to be part of that future.”
Bechtel has performed substantial environmental cleanup at Hanford and is building the Waste Treatment Plant to safely treat liquid radioactive waste stored in underground tanks there. At Los Alamos, Bechtel is part of a consortium managing and operating Los Alamos National Laboratory. At Oak Ridge, Bechtel leads a consortium managing and operating the Y-12 National Security Complex as well as a sister facility near Amarillo, Texas called the Pantex Plant.
- Part I: Inside World War II’s Secret Cities: Oak Ridge
- Part II: Inside World War II’s Secret Cities: Hanford and Los Alamos
If you go:
The National Building Museum is located at 401 F St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. Secret Cities: The Architecture and Planning of the Manhattan Project open May 3, 2018 and closes March 3, 2019. Watch a video trailer here.