|On A Greening Mission
We’ve been working with Mission Landscape Architecture of Irvine, CA recently on several living wall projects. They are on a “mission” to enhance the So. California urban environment with living walls. Their designs resulted in two important Tournesol green walls in San Diego and Los Angeles. As they note in their project information sheets, the walls stand (no pun intended) as a “testament to the creativity of the architecture community and the continuing trend of green walls within the industry.” (emphasis ours!)
As Seen in Living Architecture Monitor
One of these green walls was just highlighted in the most recent issue of Living Architecture Monitor (Summer Health Issue, 2014). The Tournesol VGM living wall was installed at the Irvine Company’s Westwood Gateway 1. In the article (entitled “How Green Roofs & Walls Have Impacted Occupants’ Well-Being”) Sherry Mashadian, manager of operations for the Irvine Company Office Properties, reflected on how their green wall project has affected their tenants.
According to her, the living wall is located in a courtyard with a fountain and soft seating that give customers and staff an opportunity to take breaks, eat lunch and even conduct team meetings in a lushly landscaped environment. “The living wall is definitely one of the greater features of the building and an added value to the project. The visitors and guests are always admiring the living wall. It’s also a tour stop for our leasing team. The living wall is definitely an amenity for the tenants of the property.
The property owners specifically charged Mission Landscape with enhancing the existing courtyard. They removed an overgrown hedge to create the “canvas” for the new Tournesol living wall. Initial plans proposed covering the entire wall, but eventually they decided upon one wall panel that serves as an art piece to the adjacent cafe seating area. Surrounding the VGM panels and structural frame is a custom metal picture fame to complete the linear design. Multi-textured shade tolerant plants of green ferns, moneywort and grasses accented by plum-colored coral bells create the “living picture.”
Sherry did touch on maintenance in the article. She mentioned that they have kept a specialized contractor on to maintain the project (our friends at Greenscaped Buildings ), and that other than a few replacements in the initial period, there haven’t been many issues in the year that the wall has been up.
And, an underground update
We acquired the Root Solutions root barrier business from Vespro of California nearly a year ago, and thought we’d give you an update on what’s going on with the product. Large Bay Area contractor and regular customer Jensen Landscape was recently installing the product at a new Kaiser Permanente Hospital c omplex in Redwood City, CA and invited us in to take some pictures. They were kind enough to leave several trenches open to allow us to photograph the product in its natural environment.
Root barrier continues to be an important product. The eventual cost of tree roots damaging parking lots, sidewalks, and roads isn’t going down, and has made barrier into a very commonly-specified product for highway departments, municipalities, and commercial properties. We even hear of it being put in for many large residential developments – the minimal cost of the product saves thousands of dollars in headaches over time. Our biggest surprise in entering the market is that its use is more prevalent west of the Mississippi than to the east. It doesn’t seem like trees grow differently on one coast than another – why the discrepancy?
We’ve had to learn a lot about extrusion and manufacturing the product, as you might have guessed. Despite a few hiccups, we’re in control of the process, sourcing the 100% recycled polyethylene (mostly post-consumer), and keeping production line running. One of the important things that we’ve mastered is the blend of high density and low density polyethylene. It’s critical to make the material supple enough to be easy to install, yet strong enough to resist tree roots. The contractors we work with tell us it slips together easy, holds well, and flexes when it needs to. In general, they tell us that they like the material better than other direct competitor’s – it’s easier to work with and less time-consuming to install. With the creatively sourced recycled material, we’ve also made sure that the pricing is highly competitive!
Architectural Record & the AIA convention
Congratulations are in order! Our continuing education course, ” Green Walls: Integrating Nature into Buildings ” has won the Audience Engagement Award as one of the top five most popular courses offered through Architectural Record’s Continuing Education Center . More than 150,000 CEU tests were taken in the past year through their portal, and the popularity of the course shows the high level of interest that architects have with living walls. We are pleased to be able to offer it to the AIA community.
We wish the best to all the AIA members who will be attending the upcoming annual convention in Chicago. We won’t be there to collect our award, but don’t miss our Australian product advertisement in the most recent issue of Arch Record!