Bell Works, the successor of the former Bell Labs, will be the recipient of the largest photovoltaic glass skylight in the United States. Somerset Development is in the process of renovating the former Bell Labs site, a 2-million square-foot space. When it is complete, the space will host offices, retail, healthcare, dining, recreation, a public library and hotel space.
The complex is located in Holmdel, NJ. The PV system will consist of more than 3,200 skylights and will cover 60,000 square feet of the building’s iconic atrium. The challenge is to renovate the space without interfering with the building’s historical design. The original Bell Labs building was designed by architect Eero Saarinen.
The large PV installation will address the issue of solar heat gain in the Bell Works complex by converting some of that heat to energy. Typical solar panels are designed to capture all incoming light because their primary purpose is to generate electricity. With the Bell Works building, traditional PV panels can’t be used because they won’t admit enough natural light into the building.
The PV design, therefore, calls for the use of specialized solar panels that capture incoming infrared light, while allowing visible light to pass through to the space below. The specialized PV panels will transmit about 20% of the visible light that strikes the panel – enough to light the space below without heating the space unnecessarily.
The mixed-use redevelopment of the Bell Labs complex will be augmented by the construction of new residential buildings on the grounds. The project has been on the drawing board since Somerset Development purchased the former lab space in 2014. The project isn’t expected to be finished until 2021, although some tenants have already moved into the space. Currently about 70% of the space has been rented.
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Photo Credit: sodapop, via Flickr.com