More than three dozen local residents were granted rare access to the Bell Labs building in Holmdel on May 14, taking a guided tour of the iconic office and research complex as part of a Lifelong Learning program at Brookdale.
For many, the visit was a trip down memory lane. About 6,000 people once worked at the famed Eero Saarinen-designed corporate campus, including a wide range of scientists, engineers and other professionals from across Monmouth County.
The campus’s 2-million square central complex was ultimately vacated by Bell Labs, however, making it the largest unoccupied office building in the nation. After much debate over the future of the building, Lakewood-based Somerset Development has now assumed control of the property and is repurposing it as a mixed use town center. The multi-million dollar renovation project will preserve the iconic building, maintaining its historic value for future generations.
The tour was not all nostalgia, however. Brookdale Professor Edward O’Neill also presented a lecture on architecture fundamentals and the breadth of Eero Saaarinen’s work, which included the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport. O’Neill also discussed the nuances of architecture itself, explaining its unique mix of art, technology and human accommodation.
Quoting Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, O’Neill said, “Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together. There it begins.”
Click here to learn more about Lifelong Learning programs at Brookdale.
Photos and story by Linda Martin, director of Lifelong Learning at Brookdale.