Storming the Winter Palace
ORNL's 1940s-era Quonset huts are in the final stages of demolition.
With the help of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, ORNL's 1940s-era Quonset huts are in the final stages of demolition. Overlooking the laboratory's Oak Ridge Science and Technology Park, the aging structures were part eyesore and part historic reminder of ORNL's post-war role in the years following the Manhattan Project. Despite their historical significance, the buildings were simply too deteriorated to preserve.
The fact that the structures were Quonset huts suggests they were never intended to be permanent structures.
Nonetheless, they were used for a variety of purposes over the years. In a humorous comparison to the opulent home of the Russian Czars in St. Petersburg, the rusting facilities became known as the "Winter Palace" when the UT-Battelle contract transition team used them for offices in the winter of 1999-2000.
The demolition of the structures will make available land for expansion of the adjacent Science & Technology Park, the first privately developed R&D park within the campus of a national laboratory. The park is a key part of the redevelopment of the Manhattan-era section of the ORNL campus. Lab Director Thom Mason says, "We felt it just didn't make sense to have one of ORNL's most dilapidated buildings only a block away from some of the world's most modern research facilities." ARRA funds were also used for the recent demolition of the Radioisotope Development Laboratory, which has been closed since the 1980s.