Letter from Clifford K. Beck to Col. J. W. Harrelson
June 24, 1950
North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering
University of North Carolina
June 24, 1950
Col. J. W. Harrelson, Chancellor
North Carolina State College
Raleigh, North Carolina
As you requested, Mr. Paulson and I have prepared a tentative sketch
of the floor plan and external appearance, of a building specifically designed to
house the Nuclear Reactor State College intends to build. The details are not
completely thought out, but the four essential features at the eventual instal-
lation (sketch 1, left above) are included. They are, in order of importance:
- 1. The Reactor Room, with the nuclear reactor, a huge octagonal block of concrete
17 feet across and 11 feet high (largely underground and partly below floor
level), in the center of the room. Around the reactor must be space for
experimental equipment. Opposite each opening in the concrete block, from
which a collimated beam of radiation may emerge, a narrow opening in the
building wall leading to an underground radiation trap, must be provided.
Head room above the reactor is needed for large ventilation blowers, and
for lifting crane.
- 2. The Research Wing, or more correctly, the pre-and post-exposure sample pre-
paration, handling and counting laboratories. These facilities for specimen
manipulation immediately adjacent to the Reactor Room will more than double
the types and importance of research projects which can be undertaken. This
wing must be equipped for the handling of highly radioactive materials.
- 3. The Student Wing. With the press of research problems certain to be scheduled
for the Reactor, and the high level of radioactivity, it will be virtually
impossible to have students in the Research Wing for nuclear technology
training. Yet instruction and education is one of the fundamental objectives
for which the Reactor is being established. Hence a space adjacent to the
Reactor suitable for laboratory and student research activities is highly
- 4. The Control-Observation-Calculation-Records Area. If necessary, the control
console can be located in one of the laboratory wings, adjacent to the Reactor
Room. It is almost imperative however, that there be a sizable area near the
Reactor which is completely free of radiations or radioactive materials. Cal-
culations, records, observation facilities for visitors (of which there are
certain to be many, because this will be the first reactor in the entire
country--the world, perhaps, accessible to the public), etc. must be located
outside "work" areas.
Col. J. W. Harrelson -2- June 24, 1950
On first sight, this whole building appears rather a large one.
I have sketched the entire plan as it most desirably should be built. If funds
are not available however, the entire laboratory, though desirable, would not
be initially essential to reactor operation. Quite effective work could be
done with only the central portion and one wing, or even with the central portion
alone (with reassignment of space functions). One wing, or both, could be added
later. It is possible also that each dimension of the building (except perhaps
those of the Reactor Room) could be reduced somewhat, it necessary.
I hope this information and these sketches will be adequate for
your purposes. If there is anything further we can provide you, please command
Perhaps I should add for your information, our reactor design, if
anything, is ahead of schedule. If events occur as we now anticipate, complete
approval of our project should be obtained and the construction phase should
begin on or before September 1 of this year.
Clifford K. Beck, Head
Department of Physics