UW News

January 25, 2005

UW to display conceptual drawings for proposed underground lab

News and Information

University of Washington officials have developed conceptual architectural drawings of the entry, or “portal,” for the proposed Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory-Cascades, and drawings for associated surface facilities, including a visitor center and a science campus.

The portal drawing depicts a tunnel opening to a laboratory about 7,700 feet beneath the top of Cashmere Mountain near Leavenworth, and it illustrates loading and vehicle turnaround areas that also are inside the mountain. Lab personnel would travel by electric shuttle to the portal, which is proposed to be at about the nine-mile marker of Icicle Road.

“The conceptual renderings are intended only as illustrations and should be viewed as examples of potential design options,” said Marilyn Cox, UW director of capital planning who heads the university’s Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory-Cascades Office.

“The scale of the portal shown in the concept drawings is consistent with the project’s functional needs, but specific design details will be determined based on continued input from the community,” she said.

A variety of scientific experiments require an underground environment to shield them from cosmic rays that are present at the surface, and several such labs exist in other countries. The next generation of science experiments that require such an environment will need facilities much deeper than currently exist, and UW scientists have led the push for such a lab to be built in the United States. For more than a year, they have been talking with Chelan County residents about the possibility of placing such a lab near Leavenworth.

The portal’s design, with an underground portal room, incorporates suggestions from Icicle Valley residents to minimize its footprint in Wenatchee National Forest.

Also envisioned is a science campus that incorporates many sustainable design elements, including natural ventilation, solar panels, native vegetation and a gray-water system. During public meetings in late 2003, Leavenworth-area residents suggested making the science campus a model for sustainability.

The underground lab Cascades office was established late last year at the UW to ensure continuation of dialogue begun by the Port of Chelan’s Citizens Advisory Committee. The office plans to work with community and local agencies to determine preferred sites and develop more detailed design for the visitor center and the science campus.

UW scientists will submit a preliminary site engineering proposal for the Cascades underground laboratory at the end of February to the National Science Foundation, which will consider it along with any other such proposals. Following preliminary analysis, funding for detailed engineering and environmental review would be requested. If the agency ultimately decides to go ahead with a proposal, it has tentatively set 2008 to begin financing lab construction.

The conceptual renderings are being displayed at the Leavenworth, Cashmere and Wenatchee public libraries, as well as at the Allen Library on the UW Seattle campus. The displays will also contain information about the proposed Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory-Cascades project and contact information for the UW project office.

The information is also available at the underground lab Cascades Web site, http://www.int.washington.edu/DUSEL/cascades.html  


For more information, contact the UW DUSEL-Cascades Office at (206) 897-1755 or duselc@u.washington.edu