by Will Davis
Although we may not think of art at the same time as we think of nuclear facilities, art has nevertheless played an important role in their development. The “artist’s concept,” or an illustration (or model, or doctored photo of a model) was, and is, a very useful tool to display to anyone what a planned facility will look like – no small thing to a community asked to host one, or a utility paying to build one. There have been many genres of concept illustration or art produced for nuclear plants just as there have been for any other kind of thing – so let’s take a look at some from my collection. Descriptions are in the captions; click photos to enlarge.
Washington Public Power Supply System Project 1: This art bears the name of WPPSS, but may have been produced by the project’s initial engineer-constructor, United Engineers & Constructors. This is a completely realistic (in other words, dimensionally accurate) simulated aerial view of the completed two-unit project and is a stunning example of the very best of the “accurate school” of concept art, if I may coin a phrase. These plants were, of course, never finished although their neighbor, WPPSS Project 2 was and is today known as Columbia Generating Station. This is an actual print in my collection.
An early 1960’s press photo from Atomics International shows a commercial organic cooled nuclear plant in an aerial view. This image is dimensionally accurate and realistic as was the WPPSS illustration shown above, but represents another style – a sort of dramatic, pen and ink / pencil drawing sort of appearance. One must be careful, though – some of these late 1950’s and early 1960’s concept art pieces were originally produced in color and then widely reproduced in black and
by Will Davis