Thomas Edison National Historical Park
West Orange, New Jersey
Thomas Edison National Historical Park preserves Thomas Edison’s laboratories and residence in West Orange, New Jersey. RAA was commissioned to provide planning and design to tell the story of the lab where inventions like the motion-picture camera, improved phonographs, sound recordings, silent and sound movies, and the nickel-iron alkaline electric storage battery were born.
The life and work of this American genius, who almost single-handedly invented many of the instruments of modern life, are interpreted throughout the building.
Edison’s two-story library, stockroom, and heavy-machine shop were reopened on the first floor. The precision-machine shop, Room 12 (Edison’s private lab), and the drafting room are on the second floor. The third floor includes the music room—the world’s first recording studio—where a phonograph collection documents the early years of sound recording.
RAA re-created Edison’s photography studio with its original equipment. A new open-storage area displays thousands of historic artifacts that were central to his life as an inventor. Audio tours provide in-depth narratives for visitors as they explore the premises on their own.
The renovation has allowed visitors to see a much larger proportion of Edison’s formidable collection and library. With the reopening, “people are in awe,” said Karen Sloat-Olsen, the park’s chief of interpretation and education.
Size 18,000 square feet
Architect Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Partners