A three-year battle to protect the pristine Palisades cliffs from the development of a towering headquarters for LG Electronics USA in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, has at last been resolved, in favor of conservation groups. LG has agreed to revise its initial HOK-designed proposal and reduce the building’s height by a little more than half, from 143 feet to 69 feet, thus preserving the unspoiled vistas of the historic park from both sides of the Hudson River.
Maybe it was LG chairman Bon-Moo Koo’s passion for bird-watching and bird safety that helped sway the South Korean company to rethink its plan, as reported by the New York Times, or perhaps it was the immense support from environmental groups, four former governors, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and four former US ambassadors to South Korea that finally clinched the deal? Either way, it’s a watershed moment for the coalition partners—including Scenic Hudson, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference—who feared that if this building were erected, it would be the first of many to soar above the tree-line north of the George Washington Bridge.
The New York Times pointed out that the redesigned headquarters would still be twice the height of its neighboring buildings. Even so, former critics are pleased with LG’s new plans, which will likely bring the top floor or roof flush with the treetops. HOK has reworked the design, expanding the length of the building to include a 5-story north wing and a 3-story south wing. The firm is seeking LEED Platinum certification for the complex, and has also pledged to employ special lighting to safeguard migratory birds and other design features to “reduce the visual impact while retaining the scale of the complex as home for LG’s growing US business,” said HOK in a statement.
“The new design integrates LG’s aspirations to build a world-class, sustainable headquarters in a park-like setting below the tree line of the historic Palisades,” said Ken Drucker, design principal at HOK’s New York office. “The viewshed from the Hudson River and New York will not be impacted and the surrounding area of the 27-acre site will be reforested.”
While this first battle has been won, the NRDC will now focus its efforts now on state legislation “to limit development in towns along the New Jersey portion of the Hudson River Palisades to low-rise buildings,” explained Mark Izeman, director and senior attorney at NRDC, in a post on the organization’s website.
“If enacted, this bill would put in more permanent protection for the Palisades and help prevent the type of local zoning battle that took place in Englewood Cliff,” said Izeman.