9. The Undulating Ceilings are Leftover from the Lab
The wavy, undulating ceilings of Westbeth are holdovers from the compound’s history as a laboratory. Bell Labs was full of heavy industrial machinery, and this design allowed for more weight per square foot to be supported.
Noise from the city, especially the elevated freight railway along West Street and lack of space for its growing workforce forced Bell Labs to relocate its headquarters to Murray Hill, New Jersey in 1941. Plans to convert the industrial complex into a housing facility for artists were solidified in the 1960s and groundbreaking on the renovations took place in 1968. The Richard Meier- designed residences opened in 1970. The transformation of Westbeth is considered one of the most successful examples of adaptive reuse, the process of turning a formerly industrial site into residences.