Martin Moeller is the Senior Curator at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., where the exhibition “Secret Cities: The Architecture and Planning of the Manhattan Project” opened in 2018. In this interview, Moeller describes the history behind the exhibition and its key themes. He focuses in particular on the role of the firm of Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill in designing Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He also discusses how segregation was built into the Manhattan Project’s secret cities and the Manhattan Project’s legacies for American architecture.
Cindy Kelly: Okay. I’m Cindy Kelly. It is Monday, September 10, 2018, and I have with me Gary Petersen. My first question to Gary is to please say his full name and spell it.
Gary Petersen: Gary Petersen, P-e-t-e-r-s-e-n. Gary is G-a-r-y, so that’s easy.
Kelly: Terrific. Well, Gary, you have the most fascinating history and I want to start with the beginning. Where and when you were born and your education. A little bit about what brought you to the Tri-Cities [Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland, Washington].
Gary Petersen is the former vice president of federal programs for TRIDEC, the Tri-City Development Council, which works to promote economic growth for Washington State’s Tri-Cities (Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland) area. Before TRIDEC, he worked at the Hanford site for Battelle, serving as news manager, and in the International Nuclear Safety Program at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. In this interview, Petersen discusses the studies Hanford conducted in biology and health physics, the continuing cleanup of the Hanford site, and the future of radioactive waste disposal.
Cindy Kelly: It is September 11, 2018. I’m in Richland, Washington, Cindy Kelly. I have with me Michele Gerber, and what I’d like to ask her to do is to tell us her full name and spell it.
Michele Gerber: Michele Stenehjem Gerber. M-i-c-h-e-l-e. S-t-e-n-e-h-j-e-m. Gerber, G-e-r-b-e-r.
Kelly: Tell us a little more about your background. What did you study and how did you become interested in the history of Hanford?
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. It is May 15, 2018, and I’m on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. I have with me Phillip Broughton. My first question for him is to say his name correctly and spell it.
Phillip Broughton: My name is Phillip Broughton, it’s P-h-i-l-l-i-p B-r-o-u-g-h-t-o-n.
Phillip Broughton is a health physicist and Deputy Laser Safety Officer at University of California Berkeley. In this interview, he describes how he became a health physicist and the kind of work he does at Berkeley. He provides an overview of the buildings at Berkeley where Manhattan Project scientists worked during the war, and discusses some of the key scientists such as Glenn Seaborg.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Wednesday, April 25, 2018. I’m in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and I have with me Kevin Clarno. The first thing I want is for him to say his name and spell it.
Kevin Clarno: My name is Kevin Clarno, K-e-v-i-n C-l-a-r-n-o.
Kelly: Great. What I’d love to hear first is a little bit about yourself – about where you were born and your childhood and how you got interested in being a scientist.
Kevin Clarno is a group leader in reactor physics and a distinguished R&D staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He is also the former director of the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors at ORNL. In his interview, Clarno explains how he became interested in science and technology while growing up in Texas. He discusses his work with models that can forecast the longevity of nuclear reactors around the United States.
Gayleen: Oh, I’m Gayleen Meservey, M-e-s-e-r-v-e-y, first name Gayleen, G-a-y-l-e-e-n.
I started as a data processing clerk at the Site in 1964, following a short stint in San Francisco at a technical school to train me to operate data processing machinery. We were actually involved in measuring the reactions that the scientists produced in the reactors, giving them the data that would help them to predict the tests and to go on.
Gayleen Meservey grew up in Idaho Falls, and worked at Idaho National Laboratory. She describes the bus rides to and from the lab, which often involved card games and occasionally getting stuck in the snow. She discusses the positive relationship between the laboratory and the town, and how the influx of scientists transformed the town and the state. She also explains the incredible change in computers from the 1960s through the early 2000s, and what it was like to work on early computers.