Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. Since 2007, Fermilab has been operated by the Fermi Research Alliance, a joint venture of the University of Chicago, and the Universities Research Association (URA). Fermilab is a part of the Illinois Technology and Research Corridor.
Fermilab’s Tevatron was a landmark particle accelerator; at 3.9 miles (6.3 km) in circumference, it was the world’s fourth-largest particle accelerator (after CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, which is 27 km in circumference, the Large Electron-Positron Collider, which was also 27 km in circumference and the Super Proton Synchrotron, which is 6.9 km in circumference), until it was shut down in 2011. In 1995, the discovery of the top quark was announced by researchers who used the Tevatron’s CDF and DØ detectors.
Fermilab’s first director, Robert Wilson, insisted that the site’s aesthetic complexion not be marred by a collection of concrete block buildings.
The design of the administrative building (Wilson Hall) harkens back to St. Pierre’s Cathedral in Beauvais, France. Several of the buildings and sculptures within the Fermilab reservation represent various mathematical constructs as part of their structure.
The Archimedean Spiral is the defining shape of several pumping stations as well as the building housing the MINOS experiment. The reflecting pond at Wilson Hall also showcases a 32-foot-tall (9.8 m) hyperbolic obelisk, designed by Wilson. Some of the high-voltage transmission lines carrying power through the laboratory’s land are built to echo the Greek letter π. One can also find structural examples of the DNA double-helix spiral and a nod to the geodesic sphere.
Wilson’s sculptures on the site include Tractricious, a free-standing arrangement of steel tubes near the Industrial Complex constructed from parts and materials recycled from the Tevatron collider, and the soaring Broken Symmetry, which greets those entering the campus via the Pine Street entrance. Crowning the Ramsey Auditorium is a representation of the Möbius strip with a diameter of more than 8 feet (2.4 m). Also scattered about the access roads and village are a massive hydraulic press and old magnetic containment channels, all painted blue.