The Cloisters museum and gardens, the Metropolitan Museum’s outpost for Medieval architecture and art in northern Manhattan, faces the tree-lined cliffs of the Palisades across the Hudson River in New Jersey. The view is picturesque, uninterrupted by the built environment—nary a single building in sight. But soon, a 143-foot-high office complex designed by HOK could rise above the treetops, a change some say will spoil the idyllic natural view. The New York Times reported that LG Electronics USA’s plan to build an eight-story headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, has sparked protests from environmental groups, the Met, and Larry Rockefeller—whose grandfather donated four acres of land for the museum and park in New York and purchased 700 acres along the cliffs on the other side of the river to keep the view unmarred.
According to the New Jersey Record, LG is among the largest taxpayers in the area, and therefore has some clout with local government officials in Englewood. The Record reported that LG was granted a variance to exceed a 35-foot height limit in the area, a move later challenged in court. The property was subsequently rezoned to again allow for additional height. The development was also approved last fall by the New Jersey State Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection. The new 493,000-square-foot headquarters will cost an estimated $300 million, which LG said will yield jobs and bring in more than a million dollars in tax revenue.
Several groups and individuals are taking action, however, to prevent the new development from blemishing their much-loved, pristine views. The Met wrote a letter to LG requesting that they “reconsider the design,” and Rockefeller has spoken with LG officials to explain the significance of the landscape. In addition, environmental groups and Englewood residents have filed two separate lawsuits against the project.
Still, LG plans to begin construction on the new campus this year, with construction wrapping up in 2016. Rockefeller told the New York Times he’s optimistic a resolution will be found, saying, “No one’s opposed to the building per se. I’m certainly not. It’s just the design of it being tall and so visible.”