Preservation advocacy can be a long haul effort, and the fight to Save the Reactor is one of these efforts. In 2008, the University of Washington had plans to demolish the Nuclear Reactor Building that summer. Although there were no specific plans for the site at the time, it was (and remains) a desirable site for future development. Due to the economic recession, the UW did not proceed with demolition and redevelopment at that time.
Efforts to save the building from demolition in 2008 culminated in the nomination of the building to the Washington Heritage Register that same year and the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. Though younger than the minimum of 50 years that is generally required for listing, the Nuclear Reactor Building (constructed in 1961) was placed on the National Register of Historic Places because it demonstrated exceptional importance with its association with significant historic events, embodying the characteristics of the Modern Movement and representing the work of prominent Northwest architects. The building was also placed on the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation's 2008 Most Endangered Historic Properties List. The earlier advocacy efforts involved the Friends of the Nuclear Reactor Building (consisting mainly of University of Washington students), Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.
In the Fall of 2014, the University unveiled plans to construct a new Computer Science and Engineering II Building on the site, which would require demolition of the Nuclear Reactor Building. It was clear to advocates that this meant the building was once again, threatened. On February 13, 2015, about 25 supporters of the preservation of the Nuclear Reactor Building gathered in front of the structure for a group photo holding homemade Valentines showing their love of the historic building. This "heart bomb" event brought together Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle, Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, students, faculty, staff and others. Because of the building's significance and the seriousness of the threat, the Nuclear Reactor Building has also been re-listed on the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation's 2015 Most Endangered List:
University officials recently released a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed new Computer Science and Engineering II building with a variety of alternatives. The preferred alternative calls for the demolition of the Nuclear Reactor Building, with other alternatives involving a different site for the new building (just south of the University of Washington Club) and a plan to retain and build around the Nuclear Reactor Building. The conceptual plans for the alternative to incorporate the Nuclear Reactor Building into the new design fail to adequately consider the historic character and significance of this National Register-listed building, and demolition should not be an option. Please see the Get Involved page to learn more about how you can help Save the Reactor.
Who We Are
The Save the Reactor campaign is a collaboration among three non-profit organizations advocating for the meaningful preservation of the Nuclear Reactor Building: Historic Seattle, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and Docomomo WEWA. Click our logos below to learn more about each organization.