The K-25 History Center will have a grand opening ceremony on Thursday, February 27.
The ceremony, which will include a ribbon-cutting, is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday, February 27, at 652 Enrichment Street in west Oak Ridge.
The K-25 site, now known as Heritage Center, was built during World War II to help enrich uranium for the top-secret Manhattan Project, a federal program to build the world’s first atomic bombs. K-25 helped enrich uranium for “Little Boy,” a nuclear weapon dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, shortly before the end of World War II.
After the war, K-25 enriched uranium for nuclear weapons and commercial nuclear power plants through the Cold War. The site was shut down in the mid-1980s, and it is being cleaned up and converted into a private industrial park. The site’s large uranium enrichment buildings have been demolished and so have many of the support buildings. Most of the cleanup is expected to be completed this year.
The K-25 History Center was built as part of an agreement allowing the demolition of the North Tower at the former mile-long U-shaped K-25 Building. That was one of five large buildings that used a process called gaseous diffusion to enrich uranium, and the K-25 Building was once the world’s largest building under one roof.
The history center will occupy 7,500 square feet in the second floor of the existing, city-owned Oak Ridge Fire Station Number 4. The building is adjacent to the K-25 Building’s 44-acre footprint, which is now part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Oak Ridge Today has previously reported that the history center will include a theater and interactive galleries that display equipment, artifacts, and other media to highlight the site’s workers and numerous Manhattan Project and Cold War-era accomplishments.
The K-25 History Center is part of a larger historic preservation agreement that the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management signed in 2012 with local, state, and federal historic preservation partners. Under the agreement, the office is also responsible for constructing an Equipment Building and Viewing Tower next to the K-25 History Center. The Equipment Building will be a full size representative cross section of the former building, while the Viewing Tower will provide visitors a view of the site from 70 feet above the K-25 slab.
When crews finished constructing Building K-25 as part of the Manhattan Project in 1945, it was the largest structure in the world. Its size was rivaled only by the importance of its mission—to help end a global war, DOE said. Uranium enrichment operations continued at the site until 1985, and the site was permanently shut down in 1987.
For more historical information about K-25, visit the K-25 Virtual Museum online at www.k-25virtualmuseum.org.
See our previous stories on the K-25 History Center here.