Saarinen’s Bell Labs – The Mirrored Masterpiece as Metroburb

Happy New Year! We’re starting with one of our favorite topics here on the blog, Historic Preservation and intelligent adaptive re-use.

Thanks to Design Within Reach, I now know what will become of a grand building with a wonderful historic pedigree. The Bell Labs Holmdel Complex was the place where innovation was celebrated and nurtured by over 6,000 engineers and researchers. The laser cooling research of Steven Chu was a Nobel Prize winning discovery.

New Jersey-native Ralph Zucker purchased the property in 2013, and his firm is transforming the 472-acre campus in Holmdel, New Jersey, into a health and wellness-anchored “metroburb” called Bell Works that will include a skilled nursing facility and assisted-living center, a hotel, restaurants and shops, a spa, office spaces and a 20,000-square-foot public library. Luxury homes and an outdoor sports complex are also planned for the surrounding land.

As for how Saarinen’s mirrored masterpiece will be preserved, Zucker says not to fret: “From the conversation pit to the light-filled hallways and atrium to the mirrored glass-clad exterior, we are staying true to Saarinen’s vision for a collaborative space that’s conducive to wandering and interacting.”

Built in 1962 and expanded in '66 and '85, the building has been vacant since 2007. Photo by Gwendolyn Horton
Built in 1962 and expanded in ’66 and ’85, the building has been vacant since 2007. Photo by Gwendolyn Horton
As a landmark for the site, Saarinen designed a 127-foot-high, 300,000 gallon water tower. Photo by Gwendolyn Horton
As a landmark for the site, Saarinen designed a 127-foot-high, 300,000 gallon water tower. Photo by Gwendolyn Horton
The Conversation Pit Photo by Gwendolyn Horton
The Conversation Pit
Photo by Gwendolyn Horton
Being in the basement is like being in the hull of a huge ship. Photo by Gwendolyn Horton
Being in the basement is like being in the hull of a huge ship.
Photo by Gwendolyn Horton

 

For more, please visit the Design Within Reach Blog

Leave a Reply