Granted, there are many Bible passages that must be viewed in a symbolic way, but in this case there’s no indication — from context, or other factors - we have to view this passage in that way.
On the contrary, the geographical, and anthropological indication showed here (the journey east-ward, the plain of Shinar, the use of bitumen served as mortar between bricks of baked clay) indicates that this account is a historical account.
brick [Hebrew: laban; to become white]
I commend you academic criticism in using the definition of the words we read in this chapter to reassess the no well established and traditional, even orthodox way the whole chapter reads out.
Clearly, it doesn't make much sense the way the word choices from the Hebrew have been selected out of the many synonyms available to for those words.
Whereas you were off to a good start, recognizing that "mix of tongues" is a better choice than "confusion," for example.
But lets look deeper in this same way, and re-evaluate the word "bricks," for a start:
The implication of the word brick seems be related to both the idea of changing and presenting a slate of white for which something new might be written.
Gen. 11:3 And they, (?), said, one to another, "Go to, let us make (each for ourselves, as a separate clean sheet, as white as clay), brick [Hebrew: laban; to become white], and (destroy) burn them ; [Hebrew: sarap; to be set on fire, destroying of objects of all kinds].
And they (then) had (white clay) brick [Hebrew: lbonah; incense: lbenah; whiteness of an altar of brick] for (as) stone (is used as a construction material), and (some implement or means), slime rising to the surface[/B] had they for mortar, (something bubbling up in the society of man; [Hebrew: mortar, chomer: bubbling up of water, a wave, a heaping]).
These generate ideas about some type of pack or re-organization among them.
It suggests some sort of new way of thinking or coming together that wiped out the old, perhaps the earlier more instinctual behaviors or patterns of behavior, and the bubbling up of mixture of other new patterns.