Stop Making Sense
Kasia Keeley, Andrew Prindle
The Hanford Nuclear Site in Eastern Washington is home to some of the most complex social and ecological issues facing the world. The urgency of the arms race initiated by World War II and propelled by the ensuing Cold War centered around new technologies based on increased scales of destructive capacities through both weaponry and information sciences. The fundamental alteration of what “war” constitutes resulted in the world’s most rapid accumulation of high-power weaponry and an attending unprecedented, amount of contamination resulting in the most expensive environmental cleanup in history. This cleanup has experienced many delays and complications and is still far from the seemingly impossible goal of bounded, static waste containment.
As Hanford’s role in the landscape shifts dramatically, there are repercussions felt by local populations – the workers of Hanford, the residents of Richland, indigenous tribes – as well as a much wider public with the inclusion of the B Reactor as part of our national heritage in the National Park System via the Manhattan Project National Park project. We argue that new methods of design, articulation, and place making are necessary to cultivate and mediate new relationships between history, waste and toxicity as well as cultural land uses in order to address the complexities of Hanford. How can the site convey a more nuanced understanding of its environmental and political history to a greater audience than the DOE/NPS has currently envisioned? What possibilities exist for landscape, design, and art in an anthropic landscape? How might Hanford serve as a guide for handling human-waste relationships? What novel techniques can allow landscape to productively articulate and engage users with the history and toxicity of a such a site?