This video was made to observe the 20th anniversary of the opening of Bell Laboratories’ complex in Holmdel, New Jersey. The famed research center opened in 1962, 473 acres designed to be home to a workforce of more than 6,000 workers, including many of the finest scientific minds of the era.
Prominently featured at the complex was an enormous central building, designed by famed architect Eero Saarinen, whose firm also built such notable structures as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport. The Holmdel building became an instant celebrity in the architectural world, with its vast façade of reflective glass and its nearly quarter-mile long atrium.
Prior to the 1962 opening, the site had long been used by Bell Labs as a less formal location for research. It was on those grounds that Karl Guthe Jansky paved the way to radio astronomy with his 1932 discoveries. The decision to build a significant research center in that location moved Bell Laboratories decisively further down the path started by Jansky, emphasizing a dedication to breaking new ground in science and technology. Holmdel would prove to be a major research center in the Unites States through the coming decades. It won the award “Laboratory of the Year” in 1967.
Holmdel functioned as a laboratory for 44 years, finally closing in 2006. After years of discussion and debate, the complex is currently being redeveloped for both commercial and residential use, keeping the landmark Saarinen building preserved.
This video, in addition to giving a clear, brief history of Bell Labs and the Holmdel complex, also provides good insight into the life of the Bell employee, not just in the work place but at social gatherings and in community outreach. While this video is perhaps more an elaborate slide show than a formal documentary film, the images and history told here capture the sprit and excitement of an era when breakthroughs in science and technology emanated from a complex located in a small Central New Jersey town.