Help Save the Reactor!

Historic Seattle is once again asking for your help in our efforts to save the Nuclear Reactor Building (aka More Hall Annex) at the University of Washington (UW). Built in 1961, the Nuclear Reactor Building is an exceptional example of Modern design in Seattle and is important for its association with technology in the atomic age. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is an iconic structure on campus. The building is also on the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation’s current Most Endangered Historic Properties List.

The UW recently released its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed construction of the new Computer Science and Engineering Building II (CSE II), which lays out four alternatives for analysis. Its “preferred alternative” would result in the demolition of this significant building for the construction of the new CSE II building. A second alternative shows the new construction engulfing the Nuclear Reactor Building-a concept that fails to meet acceptable preservation design standards. A third alternative offers a different nearby site for the CSE II building, just south of the University of Washington Club, a modernist masterpiece on the campus. The fourth alternative is to take no action.

From our initial review of the Draft SEIS, we feel that that University has not considered the adverse effects to the Nuclear Reactor Building adequately in both the first and second alternatives. As a leading public university in the United States, with an outstanding architecture department, UW has access to an exceptional community of design and preservation professionals, faculty/staff, students, alumni, etc. who care about what happens to the university campus. With all these resources available, the University needs to try harder and work with the larger community to come up with a truly creative design solution that both preserves and honors the Nuclear Reactor Building in a respectful manner and allows for the construction of the new CSE II building.

If you care about this issue, please have your voice be heard! The UW is holding a public hearing on campus next Monday, October 26, from 4 pm to 7 pm (Kane Hall, Walker Ames Room #225). You do not need to be at the hearing for the full three hours. It is a block of time during which anyone may attend to provide public comments about the Draft SEIS.

Voice your support for a real preservation alternative for the Nuclear Reactor Building. Tell the University of Washington it can do better, and must do better.

If you are not able to attend the public hearing, you can submit written comments to the UW. Comments will be taken through November 23, 2015 and may be sent to Jan Arntz, SEPA Responsible Official,

Download a PDF of the full Draft SEIS.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to advocate for the preservation of the Nuclear Reactor Building! If have questions about the Draft SEIS and/or you’d like to get involved with this advocacy effort, please contact Eugenia Woo, Director of Preservation Services, Historic Seattle, at or 206.622.6952, ext 245.

Photo credit: Abby Inpanbutr