Construction could start this year on the K-25 History Center at the East Tennessee Technology Park in west Oak Ridge, federal officials said. Plans also call for an Equipment Building and Viewing Tower at the site. Although the projects depend upon funding, the goal is to finish the work by 2019.
The K-25 site was one of three large sites built by the federal government in Oak Ridge during World War II to help make the world’s first atomic weapons as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project. The other two sites were X-10, which is now known as Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Y-12, now the Y-12 National Security Complex.
At K-25, the three history-related facilities will have three missions. The History Center will tell the story of the workers. The Equipment Building will focus on the technology. And the Viewing Tower will show visitors the size of the site. All three facilities will be on the south side of the former mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building.
K-25 used a process called gaseous diffusion to enrich uranium for atomic weapons and, later, for commercial nuclear power plants. Officials and contractors have said that K-25 helped win the Cold War. The site is now known as Heritage Center or East Tennessee Technology Park.
Preserving its history is part of a Memorandum of Agreement that was signed in August 2012 and allowed for the complete demolition of K-25, once the world’s largest building under one roof. The historic preservation work is expected to cost about $20 million total. [Read more…]