Plans afoot for legendary Bell Labs designed by Saarinen
September 22, 2013
The former 1962 Eero Saarinen-designed Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, New Jersey is back in the news this month. The 473-acre property, which includes the two million-square-foot building as its centerpiece, was sold to New Jersey-based Somerset Development in late August. Over the past two months Somerset Development achieved the re-zoning it was seeking from Holmdel Township for residential use. The sale comes after years of discussion between the property owners––Alcatel-Lucent, Somerset, the township and preservation groups, including DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State, about the future of the site. Somerset plans to sell half of the land to Toll Brothers for the development of 40 single-family houses and 185 high-end townhouses. Somerset is pursuing plans to repurpose it as mixed-use center with health care spaces, retail, a hotel, and a town library to be designed by New York-based architect Alexander Gorlin. As details are fleshed out, DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State, which co-organized the 2008 charrette on the future of the building, sees the challenge as twofold: How to avoid or (better) mitigate the impact that new construction will have in the landscape and the site, and how to assure that the character-defining features of the Saarinen-designed building are respected.