AUGUST 15, 2012 | UNITED STATES
In July 2009, Jehovah’s Witnesses purchased a plot of land in upstate New York with plans to relocate their world headquarters. The 102-hectare (253 a.) property is located about 80 kilometers (50 mi) northwest of the existing facilities in Brooklyn, New York, where they have been since 1909.
Some 800 Witnesses will live and work at the new facility, which will include an office building, a services building, and four residence buildings. A modest museum documenting the modern-day history of Jehovah’s Witnesses is also planned.
The facility will take up 18 hectares (45 a.) of the purchased property, leaving the surrounding forest and wetlands undeveloped. The landscaping will not include any large lawn areas. Instead, it will harmonize with the site’s wooded location.
Architects have designed the buildings to be energy efficient and to conserve resources, which will result in minimal environmental impact and low operating costs. For example, the roofs of the buildings will be covered with hardy, low-maintenance plants, both to decrease the runoff of rain and to stabilize temperatures inside the buildings. The office design takes advantage of natural light for illumination. Water conservation is also a priority.
What prompted the planned move? Branch offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses in other parts of the world now share in the printing of Bibles and Bible-based literature, which was once exclusively done in Brooklyn. In 2004, printing and shipping operations in the United States were moved to Wallkill, New York, about 145 kilometers (90 mi) northwest of Brooklyn.
Cost too was a consideration. It is expensive to operate and maintain the facilities in Brooklyn. By relocating to a compact facility, the Witnesses can make better use of funds to support their work of Bible education.
An environmental review process is required before final permits can be granted. If all goes well, construction will begin in 2013 and will be completed in four years.
Apart from the printing complex in Wallkill, New York, Jehovah’s Witnesses have an educational center in Patterson, New York. The organization operates branch offices in many countries. Worldwide, the Witnesses number more than seven and a half million.