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Thesis:

Designer:

Human existence is situated in a complex

Sited about 800 miles southwest of Honolulu,

atmosphere of waves and radiation, a

this thesis intervenes in the radioactive coral

reality witnessable only as the appear-

reefs of a man-made island, Johnston Atoll.

ance of certain indirect effects, but that is

The island exists due to a 30-year dredging

not immediately perceivable.

process performed by the U.S. military begin-

—Peter Sloterdijk

ning in 1942. As part of Operation Dominic,

Din Botsford Blankenship

83

Disembodied its reefs to large amounts of radioactive

human invention and the human body,

plutonium. The lethal plutonium is undetect-

recognizing that the product of the human

able as it interacts with human and ecological

brain often exceeds the performative capabil-

bodies, only revealing itself years later in the

ity of a fragile body. Man’s innovations alter

form of cancer. This thesis proposes a nuclear

landscapes, cultures, ecosystems, and politi-

medicine facility within this radioactive

cal climates in ways that place our material

landscape through three scales of interven-

bodies at risk—a clear disembodiment be-

tion—an infrastructure, an architecture of

tween mind and matter. This uncoupling of

the body, and an architecture of a vessel. This

cognitive ambition from physical wellbeing is

layered, multi-scalar approach leverages the

traced here through the lens of nuclear tech-

radiation’s pervasive and intangible toxicity

nology and its resultant radioactive decay.

into a tool by which the body is healed. Paired

Initially developed as a strategic instrument

with the high technology of nuclear medicine,

of war, nuclear technology has consequently

architecture might re-embody the innovative

surrendered the human body to the debilitat-

capacity of the human mind within the body’s

ing effects of radiation. The invisible force

physical form.

Kathy Velikov

invades and assumes the medium of its unknown host, manifesting itself as cancer-

Like the medical technology this project

ous mutation. Can architecture expose the

implements, architecture operates precisely

pervasive toxicity of this radioactivity while

at the collision of human invention and

reconciling the fragile human body with the

human frailty. Architecture can become an

lethal offspring of the human mind?

extension of the human anatomy, partaking in the same complex network of material and

Proposed Body Architecture This plexi-glass model illustrates the first body architecture component of the proposal. Its layered construction is reflective of the layering strategy employed by each component of the project.

Blankenship

Advisor:

This thesis explores the relationship between

Velikov

experiments, which exposed the island and

Thesis

Johnston Atoll hosted numerous atomic

Dimensions 26  
Dimensions 26  
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