2009-06-25 / Front Page

Bell Labs charrette recognized by state

Count Basie Theatre restoration garners award
BY ERIN O. STATTEL Staff Writer

The effort to find an adaptive reuse for the former Bell Labs site on Crawford's Corner Road has drawn the attention of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Historic Preservation Office.

ERIN STATTEL Charrette organizers and sponsors stride toward the Alcatel-Lucent building last spring. The event organizers were honored this year with recognition from the N.J. DEP's Office of Historic Preservation. ERIN STATTEL Charrette organizers and sponsors stride toward the Alcatel-Lucent building last spring. The event organizers were honored this year with recognition from the N.J. DEP's Office of Historic Preservation. The Bell Labs charrette, held in April 2008 and spearheaded by Preservation NJ and other agencies such as the NJ Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), was one of the recipients of this year's Historic Preservation Awards from NJ DEP.

The charrette was designed to attract the attention of designers, engineers, architects and landscape professionals to survey the grounds and the 2 million-square-foot building that has stood vacant after Alcatel- Lucent shuttered the building in 2007.

"These extraordinary preservation projects and the enlightened people who made them happen deserve our appreciation and admiration not only for recognizing that New Jersey's historic places matter, but for helping all of us understand why," NJDEP Commissioner Mark Mauriello said.

Mauriello and New Jersey Historic Sites Council Chairman David Markunas presented certificates to each of the honorees during the 19th annual New Jersey Historic Preservation Awards ceremony at Ellarslie Mansion, the Trenton City Museum.

According to the DEP, the awards program raises public awareness and understanding of historic preservation, recognizes volunteer contributions to preserve historic resources, acknowledges projects of excellent quality and honors individuals, organizations and agencies dedicated to historic preservation and advocacy.

Every year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designates May as National Historic Preservation Month. The theme for 2009 is "This Place Matters." As part of the celebration, the DEP's Historic Preservation Office and the New Jersey Historic Sites Council hold an awards ceremony to spotlight the state's outstanding achievements in historic preservation.

During the ceremony, Mauriello also presented a proclamation from Gov. Jon S. Corzine recognizing the value of historic preservation in New Jersey.

Architect Eero Saarinen designed the main building at the former Bell Labs site.

World-renowned landscape architect Sasaki, Walker and Associates designed the landscaping surrounding the 2 millionsquare foot, mid-century modern building. The building was erected between 1959 and 1962 and was expanded in 1966 and 1985.

According to information from Preservation New Jersey, the site in Holmdel is eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

According to the DEP website, eligible award recipient categories include individuals, organizations, agencies and projects. The charrette was recognized as a project.

The website states that projects are judged on criteria including: "restoration, rehabilitation, or adaptive use of historic buildings, structures, sites, cultural landscapes or maritime properties. Especially projects that incorporate sustainability and green design, and urban revitalization through historic preservation."

Recognition went to Michael Calafati, AIA; Nina Rappaport, DOCOMOMO US/NY Tri-State Chapter; Richard Garber, AIA; Sean Khorsandi; Richard Southwick, FAIA; Ron Emrich, Preservation New Jersey; Clinton Andrews, director of Urban Planning and Policy Development, Bloustein School, Rutgers University; American Institute of Architects - New Jersey Chapter; Preservation New Jersey, Inc.; DOCOMOMO US/NY Tri-State Chapter.

"Preservation is often seen as looking back, but we must also lead our communities, the citizens of N.J., to an expanded sense of the value of historic properties," the DEP's historic preservation website states.

"This charrette was at the cutting edge of evaluating what is possible in rehabilitation of a modernist landmark. The charrette embodies the commitment, the spirit of volunteerism, the many people coming together, taking time away from their professional lives, to explore ways to preserve this unique historic property and 'sketch a vision of a viable future for the building and the site.' "

Earlier this month, an awards committee consisting of a New Jersey Historic Sites Council member, a representative of the DEP's Historic Preservation Office, and a preservation professional selected the winners after evaluating all awards applications.

The committee considered only those individual accomplishments, projects and programs that involve historic resources eligible for listing in the New Jersey Register of Historic Places, the National Register of Historic Places or both.

Other winners include: Rehabilitation of the Rialto and the Capitol at the Beacon, Jersey City, Hudson County; rehabilitation of the Fire Control Tower No. 23, Lower Township, Cape May County; restoration of the Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank, Monmouth County; Preservation New Jersey's "10 Most Endangered Historic Sites in New Jersey" program and its creator, Deborah M. Kelly; restoration of the Jersey City Council Chambers, Jersey City, Hudson County; reconstruction of St. Bernard's Episcopal Church, Bernardsville, Somerset County; and the restoration of the Henry Doremus House, Montville, Morris County.

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