US Dept of Energy: Future Use

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he US Department of Energy built the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky int he 1950’s. Once the sole source of all uranium enrichment for the US’s nuclear weapons and energy programs, the DoE is decommissioning the facility and leaving Paducah, KY with job loss and a 10 square mile underground plume of heterogeneous contaminants that was created by enrichment operations. Sponsored by Department of Energy funds, our Atomic Cities Research Group spent 36 months investigating how Paducah might turn this “problem” into solutions for building a prosperous future. The project deliverable took the form of several interactive models, and an exhibition of PGDP’s alternative futures, which traveled throughout Kentucky and was included in the 2012 International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam.

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ducah’s problem is its solution. In our research, we discovered over a thousand similar toxic sites worldwide; repositioning Paducah’s problem from local stigma to global opportunity. This realization inspired an economic model that makes remediation intellectual property into an incentive for attracting investment into Paducah’s successful cleanup. Our team went on to generate interrelated proposals of scenario plans, programming and rollout, as well as designs for processes, business models, tools, and multi-scaled spaces. We exhibited how a cleaner site that supports interdependent industries will make Paducah an attractor, so it can once again become a thriving community.

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