Photo, Print, Drawing Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, Bell Laboratories Road, Holmdel, Monmouth County, NJ

[ Drawings from Survey HALS NJ-7  ]

More Resources

[ Data Pages from Survey HALS NJ-7  ]
[ Photo Captions from Survey HALS NJ-7  ]

About this Item

Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, Bell Laboratories Road, Holmdel, Monmouth County, NJ
Contributor Names
Historic American Landscapes Survey, creator
Somerset Development Bell Works
Toll Brothers
Bell Laboratories
Dinkeloo, John
Roche, Kevin
Saarinen, Eero
Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates
Sasaki, Walker and Associates
Sasaki, Hideo
American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T)
Lucent Technologies, Inc.
Jansky, Karl G
Frank Briscoe Construction Company
Kiley, Dan
Bell Telephone Laboratories
Western Electric Company
Eero Saarinen and Associates
Stevens, Christopher M, transmitter
Harshbarger, Patrick, historian
Hunter Research, Inc. , historian
Harnsberger, Douglas J, photographer
Stevens, Christopher M, delineator
McNatt, Jason W, delineator
Created / Published
Documentation compiled after 2000
Subject Headings
-  campus - Modern
-  corporate headquarters
-  suburban life
-  Modern architectural elements
-  gardens - Modernist
-  forests
-  fields
-  driveways
-  parking lots
-  ponds
-  water towers
-  lawns
-  shrubs
-  hedges (plants)
-  trees
-  maples
-  laboratories
-  testing laboratories
-  office buildings
-  science
-  research
-  research facilities
-  meadows
-  trails & paths
-  agriculture
-  agricultural land
-  New Jersey -- Monmouth County -- Holmdel
Latitude / Longitude
-  Significance: Bell Laboratories Holmdel was constructed from 1959 to 1966 according to a plan and design of Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen (1910-61). Although Saarinen passed away in September 1961 before the project was completed, his proteges Kevin Roche (1922- ) and John Dinkeloo (1918-81) finished the work as Saarinen had envisioned. Bell Labs is a significant pioneering example of a type of modern American suburban landscape that has been variously termed a corporate campus, corporate estate, corporate villa or industrial Versailles. Bell Labs was one of five of Saarinen's completed corporate campuses; the other four were the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan (1948-1956), the IBM Manufacturing and Administrative Center in Rochester, Minnesota (1954-1956), the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown, New York (1956-1961) and the Deere & Company Headquarters in Moline, Illinois (1956-1964). While General Motors was the earliest of the five and arguably the most influential, the others illustrated how basic design features centrally-located large-scale modernist buildings, entry drives, prominent water features, parking lots and an encompassing pastoral landscape could be arranged in various ways to project a powerful corporate presence. It was a distinctive type of new postwar suburban landscape designed at an automobile scale, very different from prewar corporate headquarters, which had been mostly located in downtown skyscrapers or adjacent to manufacturing facilities. At Holmdel, Saarinen placed a six-story, 700-foot-long cubical, modernist building within a site of over 460 acres (the building was expanded to 1,000-foot-long in 1982-85 by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates). The building is best known for its innovative use of mirrored-glass curtain walls, which reflect pools and pastoral landscape back at the outside viewer. It also has been noted for its high-tech modular interior spaces, which were designed to Bell Labs' exacting requirements. Traffic circulation was provided by a grand entry drive or esplanade, side entrance drives for employees and service vehicles, and an elliptical belt road surrounding the building. Service buildings were strategically placed outside the ellipse and hidden by graded mounds or trees. Visitors parked near a grand reception lobby while thousands of employees parked inside the ellipse and used less-conspicuous side entries. The main "spray pool" at the front of the building was symmetrical with fountains forming a curtain wall, while the side pools were asymmetrical, softening the edges and providing a transition between the formality of the main building and the surrounding pastoral landscape. The side pools were replaced with additional parking when the main building was expanded in the 1980s. A rear pool and walking path were constructed behind the lab to replace the side pools. This amoebic-shaped pool was planted with specimen trees and shrubs and included fountains and an island connected to the shore with a pedestrian bridge. While Saarinen was fully in charge of all aspects of design and known for his incredible attention to detail, he collaborated closely with his clients and sub-consultants. At Bell Labs and several of his other corporate campuses, Saarinen worked with Japanese-American landscape architect Hideo Sasaki (1919-2000), founder of Sasaki, Walker and Associates. During the 1950s and 1960s, Sasaki and his students at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design became known for a multidisciplinary approach to landscape architecture, and this approach meshed well with Saarinen's equally strong feelings about comprehensive design concepts, flexibility to clients' demands, and a balance of idealism with pragmatism. Although the fundamental scheme for Bell Labs was Saarinen's, Sasaki worked within the natural flat topography to create a landscape plan that eased the square and hard-edged building into a park-like setting. He retained elements of the landscape's agricultural past, notably tree-lined streams, broad lawns where there had once been fields of corn, and copses where there had once been farmhouses. Near the building itself, the landscape became more formal with rows of trees and shrubs planted in geometrical patterns that reinforced the division of drives, parking lots, walkways and building entrances. Bell Labs, when its first phase opened in 1962, was immediately recognized as a significant blending of architecture, engineering and landscape design. Architectural critic Allan Temko described it as "Bell's palatial baroque park, which, in this country at least, is unrivaled as a formal setting for a technological building." It was a fitting monument to Bell Labs, a leader in advanced information, communications and military technologies.
-  Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N140, N141
-  Survey number: HALS NJ-7
-  Building/structure dates: after 2006 Subsequent Work
-  Building/structure dates: 1959-1966 Initial Construction
-  Building/structure dates: 1982-1985 Subsequent Work
-  National Register of Historic Places NRIS Number: 16000223
Photo(s): 45
Measured Drawing(s): 6
Data Page(s): 41
Photo Caption Page(s): 4
Call Number/Physical Location
Source Collection
Historic American Landscapes Survey (Library of Congress)
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Control Number
Rights Advisory
No known restrictions on images made by the U.S. Government; images copied from other sources may be restricted.
Online Format

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Historic American Landscapes Survey, Creator, Somerset Development Bell Works, Toll Brothers, Bell Laboratories, John Dinkeloo, Kevin Roche, Eero Saarinen, et al., Harnsberger, Douglas J, photographer. Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, Bell Laboratories Road, Holmdel, Monmouth County, NJ. New Jersey Monmouth County Holmdel, 2000. translateds by Stevens, Christopher Mmitter Documentation Compiled After. Photograph.

APA citation style:

Historic American Landscapes Survey, C., Somerset Development Bell Works, Toll Brothers, Bell Laboratories, Dinkeloo, J., Roche, K. [...] McNatt, J. W., Harnsberger, D. J., photographer. (2000) Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, Bell Laboratories Road, Holmdel, Monmouth County, NJ. New Jersey Monmouth County Holmdel, 2000. Stevens, C. M., trans Documentation Compiled After. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Historic American Landscapes Survey, Creator, et al., photographer by Harnsberger, Douglas J. Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, Bell Laboratories Road, Holmdel, Monmouth County, NJ. trans by Stevens, Christopher Mmitter Documentation Compiled After. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.

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