What Was Once the World's Largest Building Has Now Been Completely Demolished

It took five years, but the Manhattan Project's K-25 site is no more.
K-25, once upon a time (AP)

A site built for the purposes of destruction has itself been destroyed.

In the mid-1940s, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, inside the walls of K-25, some 12,000 Manhattan Project workers separated uranium-235 from uranium-238 via a process of gaseous diffusion. On August 6, 1945, a bomb containing what they had made was dropped on a city in southern JapanHiroshima.

The cloud over Hiroshima (Wikimedia Commons)

At about 44 acres of footprint, K-25 was once the largest building on Earth (by certain methods of measurement). Here, for scale, is how K-25 compares with Central Park.

Alex Wellerstein

Following World War II, K-25 remained in operation, enriching uranium for Cold War weapons and nuclear power plants. The gaseous diffusion operations were shut down in 1964; demolition began in 2008; last Thursday, it was completed. Clean-up is expected to wrap up in 2014. 

Demolition of the building's north end last January

The site is slated to become a "massive industrial park."

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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