Bell Works is the reimagination of Eero Saarinen’s iconic glass-encased Bell Labs complex in Holmdel, New Jersey. Once home to some of the most monumental innovations of the 20th century – from the transistor to the very basis of cell phone technology – this two-million-square-foot architectural gem is in the midst of a transformation into what can be described as an entirely new class of commercial real estate: the metroburb.
A concept developed and implemented by Somerset Development, a metroburb combines the density and dynamism of a walkable downtown ‘main street’ in a desirable and livable suburban locale. Bell Works’ modernist design offers a spectacular canvass for this concept, with six stories bifurcated by a 100-foot-wide, quarter-mile-long atrium acting as an ideally proportioned pedestrian street in a unique, bright, and airy indoor setting.
In redeveloping building, Somerset Development and creative director NPZ Style & Decor set out to curate a distinctly contemporary design while paying homage to its storied history. The center atrium's sprawling floors now mimic an art installation by Josef Albers -- a disciple of Saarinen -- while iconic corners of the building such as the lobby 'conversation pit' have been refreshed and restored. In addition new modernist lighting and furniture in the common areas, the team has included small tributes to Bell's legacy, including the preservation of a patent board and a restored Bell phone booth. In the hallways, the team has preserved the egg crate lighting, deemed historic by the National Register of Historic Places.
Meanwhile, the team continues to preserve and enhance the glass-encased building's prevalence of natural light. Offices, once bound by solid walls, have been largely 'opened up' with glass exteriors, welcoming sunlight from its surroundings. Perhaps most importantly, Somerset has replaced the existing skyroof with transparent photovoltaic glass, preserving its transparency while generating up to 20% of the energy needed to power Bell Works' common areas.