Most have heard of The Manhattan Project — the program lead by J. Robert Oppenheimer to develop the first nuclear weapon — but few have seen what’s left of it. Today I came across Martin Miller’s photo essay — Slouching towards Bethlehem — which gives an inside view of the surprisingly intact facility where the project was based. I was immediately stricken by the aesthetics of this massive nuclear laboratory.
I’ve always wondered how much time and thought is put into the purely aesthetic aspects of military/industrial design. Were the engineers who built this place trying to make it look good? Or am I just appreciating the fruits of design born solely from the pursuit of functionality. At any rate, the photos are excellent and whether intentional or not, the design ethic at work in these facilities is amazing. Link
10 Comments Leave A Comment
twooh says:July 14, 2009 at 12:39 am
Look at this image:
Doesn’t that look exactly like the set design in the opening sequence to the movie ‘Wargames’?
Scott says:July 14, 2009 at 1:45 am
yeah all those B&W shots are great, wish he had got some of the modern stuff in color though.
Kevin says:July 14, 2009 at 6:40 am
yeah, ive always been a fan of nasty old industrial design. there was a bunch of old coal/oil refineries outside st louis where i went to school. i would just drive by them for inspiration. any of you guys ever seen “Trinity & Beyond?”
Jamie says:July 14, 2009 at 6:44 am
Loving the ‘GRAPHITE REACTOR LOADING FACE’
jarred says:July 14, 2009 at 9:05 am
Those are some gnarly photos. People knew how to design and use type then!
I live in Knoxville, TN and have been through Oak Ridge several times. There is a lake there called Melton hill—apparently the fish still might be radioactive.
I’ve included a link to a shot of some warning signage @ the Lake boat ramp.
frank says:July 14, 2009 at 11:24 am
“GRAPHITE REACTOR LOADING FACE” almost looks like trade gothic bold extended! Not sure about the “G” though.
rtificial says:July 14, 2009 at 6:25 pm
I have this ollllld wired magazine and they have a story and photos of this one old top secret base that was built inside of a mountain in the US. I need to dig that out again cause it was a pretty awesome read. They had thought of everything just incase all hell broke loose outside. Plus they also had the worlds best paper shredder….from what they said.
Rent says:July 14, 2009 at 7:11 pm
these are definitely some really cool shots. I as well have a huge appreciation and love for all of this old military/industrial design.
I recently came across a pretty big library of some vintage jet plane photos and saved just about every picture I saw. I’ll try and find it again and link you guys to it.
joe says:July 15, 2009 at 3:37 pm
slouching towards Bethlehem is a book written by Joan Didion