First collaborating with the Pierce Foundation on a small experimental house in New Jersey, SOM went to on explore large-scale, highly rationalized construction in two major commissions. At Middle River, Maryland (1941-42), SOM built 600 houses based on the experimental house prototype. The housing project gave the firm the opportunity to test and apply their investigations into the use of space in the domestic environment and into rationalizing the prefabrication process.
At Oak Ridge, Tennessee (1943-46), built as a part of the Manhattan Project, SOM initially designed and supervised the construction of thousands of houses based on five types and later expanded its boundaries to include diverse buildings such as a church, schools, hospitals and shopping malls. Its mastery of advanced technology in prefabrication and experience with numerous building types enabled the firm to provide fast-track economical construction and to efficiently manage its labor force.
Based on the primary textual and visual materials of SOM, the Pierce Foundation, and the Manhattan Engineers District, this paper discusses how the city of Oak Ridge was developed during and after the Second World War. It also discusses how the firm advanced organizationally.
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