Archive for Friday, August 17, 2012

Heard on the Hill: Wescoe Beach renovations nearing completion; a clarified story behind Burt Hall’s nuclear reactor; Natural History Museum announces fall events

August 17, 2012


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Here's what Wescoe Beach looks like, as of Thursday. Think more benches, fewer concrete planters. Trees will be planted later.

Here's what Wescoe Beach looks like, as of Thursday. Think more benches, fewer concrete planters. Trees will be planted later.

Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• I stopped by the newly redone Wescoe Beach space Thursday and snapped a quick photo before the students completely overrun the space next week.

You can see the new benches and LED light poles that have been installed. Some trees are coming soon, I believe, to add some green to the sea of concrete.

You might recall the old space had large planters, but this adds more seating and light fixtures, too.

The University Daily Kansan reported in its big back-to-school issue that 10 electrical outlets are on the way, too, for students to charge phones, computers and the variety of other electronic gizmos they routinely haul around campus. The project cost $250,000, and was paid for using Student Senate funds, funds from the provost’s and chancellor’s office and money from KU’s Campus Safety Advisory Board.

• There are all kinds of spiffy new research spaces in the M2SEC Building on KU’s engineering campus (look for a story later), but I want to report that I did hear back on the question I posited yesterday about the reactor in Burt Hall, which is on the far western edge of the engineering campus at KU.

I’d heard that construction would be going around the old reactor space, and indeed it will.

The reactor itself is long gone (I’m not sure I made that quite clear in yesterday’s post), but the space in which it was housed — the big concrete part of Burt Hall that’s closest to the roadway — will remain standing.

The rest of Burt Hall will be torn down to accommodate the next major building for the School of Engineering.

As for the reactor, it was completely dismantled, decommissioned and removed, and the license with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission terminated in October 1993, says Michael Lemon, radiation safety officer for KU, though he did mention that Kansas State and Missouri both have active reactors today. KSU’s is used for research and Missouri’s is used for isotope production.

The space will be used for cooling the new building that will eventually occupy the space where the rest of Burt Hall is now.

• I spotted a good list of upcoming events at KU’s Natural History Museum, along with a notice that the museum would be extending its hours on Thursdays, when the museum will be open until 8 p.m.

I’ll let the museum events speak for themselves, but I will note the first of them (a behind-the-scenes herpetology tour) is set from 4 to 5 p.m. Aug. 26 in Dyche Hall, and pre-registration is required (along with a suggested contribution).

• If you’re a new student who’s just moving into KU today, then welcome. Let me be the first to tell you that the coolest thing you can possibly do as a student (really) is to send me a tip for Heard on the Hill at


blindrabbit 5 years, 7 months ago

In the 1960's I attended classes in the building that is now called Burt Hal; it l housed the nuclear reactor. At that time, the building housed two departments, Radiation Biophysics in the reactor buillding proper and Environmental Science and Engineering, and a concrete testing laboratory in the remainder. I was told that thr reactor core and containment was removed (don't know the year) and is now buried at a secure location 10 miles east of Lawrence on property KU owns near the old Sunflower Ammunition Plant near DeSoto. Always curious if the burial site is in fact there? I remember that the reactor caused some controversy on campus because of the on-going VietNam War, and concern by some on campus that military research was going there (it was not) based on what I knew. Security was enhanced during the summer of 1969 when some concern was expressed about "bombing" the building, like the Military Science Building, Summerfield Hall and the Main Union burn down. Having just returned from a couple of Navy tours in VietNam, I was conflicted about the war and the campus goings-on.Thank god that mess is over!

blindrabbit 5 years, 7 months ago

Don't you imagine that Wescoe will be/should have been demolished? What a waste of space and the design does not speak well for a University with a Architecture School and a Department of Architectural Engineering.

DillonBarnes 5 years, 7 months ago

Judging from the picture, it sure looks like a lot LESS seating than those planters provided. Also, 10 whole outlets? Surely that'll be enough for everyone.

d_prowess 5 years, 7 months ago

The picture doesn't really do it justice. There is definitely more seating than before.

Clovis Sangrail 5 years, 7 months ago

The rods were pulled out on January 28, 1986. I recall this clearly because I was there for the rod removal operation, and in the middle of it , we heard that Challenger had blown up.

The rods may have been removed in a couple or so batches. I cannot remember for sure.

Then they demolished the concrete reactor container. That thing was solid and took several controlled blasts to break it up so it could be hauled off.

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