University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky

Lexington, KY


Cut and Fill

By ukcod
Feb 2, '15 11:59 AM EST

Fourth-year and graduate students in Professor Gary Rohrbacher’s architecture studio addressed the remediation of the contaminated groundwater at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Kentucky.
In this studio, the students investigated and proposed “remediating landscapes.” Previous design studios considering the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant have studied how important hydro-dynamics are to the movement, containment and understanding of contaminants present at the site. Initial models of subsurface structures beneath the plant created in the summer of 2010 were an effort to understand and depict the relationships of these structures to the aquifer that moves above, around and through them.
 At the same time, studios that considered site-remediation more directly, ‘Paducah+’ in the fall of 2011, and more recently ‘Atomic City Museum’ in the Fall of 2013 have come to understand the enormous complexity of remediation efforts and regulations. How can one access and possibly disturb the contaminants to remediate, while guaranteeing the health, safety and welfare of both remediation workers and the immediate and broader surroundings?
This multi-semester interdisciplinary studio combined architecture, design, hydrogeology, landscape architecture, robotics and technology to prototype and simulate remediation earthworks for the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant site. 
Using first CNC routers, then simulated GPS-controlled miniatures in sand or other media, the students prototyped sculpted landscapes to channel, redirect, collect and distribute surface water in ways that could be implemented at site using automated earth-movers. The students presented their findings to representatives from the Center for Applied Energy Research and US Department of Energy novel concepts for next steps in plant cleanup.

Click here for more information about PGDP.