Uncommon Ground: An Architectural Narration of an Oregon Chemical Depot's Embedded History
Kline, Karen R.
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The Umatilla Ordnance Depot in northern central Oregon became a chemical weapon storage facility in 1962, in response to the Cold War threat of a chemical attack on the US. From 1962 through 1969, lethal munitions were received for storage at the depot, and for decades, 1,001 storage igloos dutifully held 12 percent of the nation's collection of biological weaponry safe from its surroundings, ready to be called upon if necessary. After a government consensus years later, Umatilla was required to destroy all of the nerve gases and blistering agents in storage, and in turn, the base was reconfigured to support its future role in the disposal of its chemical weapons. In 2001, an incinerator was constructed and the operation burned its entire stock of chemical weapons on site. All the stored munitions were destroyed by 2011 and the base closure is projected to be complete by 2015. Now that the disposal phase has finally reached completion, the decommissioned base must find a new role within the built environment. The storage of chemical weapons at Umatilla has been compared to the waste of a landfill on the site. With this stigma, there is a required level of sensitivity for a future scheme in such context. The intent of this thesis is to determine a proper role for the existing architectural fabric of the military installment to take on in its next phase of life. The design scheme will use the principles studied by designer Lebbeus Woods in order to transform three existing spatial typologies on the site that represent the metaphorical observation of violence the built environment imposes on the earth. Remediation of the site will become a vital factor in the aesthetic that users experience while traversing the landscape, and will dictate the program that follows.
- Architecture