Many engineers, scientists, and other workers were recruited to East Tennessee during WWII for the development of the Manhattan Project. Because of this growth, SOM was contracted to design a master plan and home designs for the secret site planned by the U.S. Federal Government. The Oak Ridge New Town Master Plan would become a foundation for urban design projects not just for SOM, but for American standards as well. More on the Oak Ridge New Town Master Plan after the break.
SOM used a winding arterial network of roads to help preserve the picturesque landscape of Oak Ridge. Street plans were designed to be informative as possible to the users. Major arteries were given names of sates, and smaller streets running off of these began with the same letter to validate connections. A “lane” was expected to be a dead-end, while a “road” was a connection to another street. It was this setup that made it considerably easier for the city’s new residents to find each other.
The area utilized prefabricated modular homes, apartments, and dormitories. Cemesto panels were used for most of the construction due to its durable, lightweight character making it easy to install. Within two years, Oak Ridge grew from 3,000 to 75,000 residents in 1945.
A series of templates, noted by a letter, were used for the prefabricated homes. For example, a one-bedroom would be characterized by the letter “A”, while “F” designated a large family home. This type of efficient organization gave the planned community a specific structure showing its roots as a government project.
The Oak Ridge master plan by SOM became in important step in the evolution of American urban planning. For SOM it was also a catalyzing agent for the firm in its work on governmental projects.