ARC 606Lab UD - Strange Towns

Proposing alternative models for curious and precarious towns in America

Strange town course banner .

A before-and-after view looking north up Locust Avenue, the former main street in Centralia, Pennsylvania

On May 27, 1962, the coal seam that runs through the town of Centralia, Pennsylvania was ignited by the deliberate burning of trash at the Centralia landfill, located in the pit of a former strip mine.

After two decades of unsuccessful attempts to put out the fire and remediate the site, the town was abandoned, leaving behind an eroding street grid and an ever-dwindling number of defiant buildings and residents. The fire -- 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit at its core and advancing at a rate of 50-75 feet per year-still burns today, and could continue to do so for another 250 years.


Gregory Delaney is a graduate of The Ohio State University’s Knowlton School, where he earned his degrees (B.S. in Architecture and M.A.S. in Criticism) and taught courses in architecture and landscape architecture before moving to Buffalo in 2011.

For this studio, we will investigate this and other unique and unfamiliar conditions presented by a number of towns in the United States. Each student will research the history of a given town and prepare an analytical study of its peculiarities to ultimately present an alternative model for its inhabitation, structure, organization, program, and respective future, with the license to situate its respective present accordingly .

Students should be prepared to devote one weekend to travel.

  1. May 27, 1962 represents the earliest known date of the fire.
  2. In 1984, the federal government offered a buyout to residents, which led to the relocation of much of the town's residents. In 1992, the state of Pennsylvania used eminent domain to acquire all remaining properties, which was followed by several attempts to evict and forcibly relocate remaining residents. The town's maximum population in history was 2,761 (1890). Its population today (as of a 2013 estimate}- ?.