Case study: Green wall revitalized at Andaz San Diego

October 10, 2012 -  By

An A-list and celebrity favorite for its posh accommodations and spicy nightlife, the  Andaz San Diego by Hyatt is a boldly progressive hotel in the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. With its sleek style and fresh attitude, this chic hotel has become a hot-spot for visitors and locals alike.  It  offers the Ivy Entertainment experience, including the Ivy Nightclub, Ivy Wine Bar and Ivy Rooftop, a sultry rooftop bar and lounge with stunning skyline views, pool and private cabanas.  However, the hotel’s green wall was not faring well.  The plant material on the wall was essentially dead with the moss being spray-painted green to provide the illusion of a green wall.

  “We reached out to Ambius as they are a preferred plantscaping vendor for Hyatt to transform a dying 200-lb. green wall into a lush and vibrant wall that would create an inviting and welcoming environment,” says Clay Walker, director of engineering at the hotel. The wall is located on the top floor of the hotel, which houses the Ivy Wine Bar and Ivy Rooftop lounge and pool.

 “Designing and installing a green wall from beginning to end doesn’t seem like such a daunting task, but taking an existing, dying wall and working with what was already created by someone else and reviving it, proved to be a major challenge,” says Janice Nath, ambiance architect for Ambius, a global interior and exterior landscaping company that is a division of the Rentokil Initial plc. group with an extensive branch network covering North America, the UK and Ireland, Continental Europe, Asia and the Pacific.

 “Our deadline was stringent,” adds Nath.  “The green wall had to be removed, replanted and reinstalled in one day.”

 Solution 

“Most of the plant material on the green wall we inherited was dead or dying,” says Leslie Neyenhuis, service leader for Ambius. “There was nothing to support the weight of the living and dying plants, so the moss, soil and plant material was falling off the wall, creating a mess on the floor. The irrigation was not working, so their former plant company had been spraying water on the plants to provide moisture—but it was not sufficient to keep the plants alive.”

 To replant the green wall, Ambius had to remove the dying wall in two pieces, each weighing more than 100 lbs.

 “The entire wall was covered by a 2×2-in. mesh grid, and the existing soil, moss and plant material had to be removed by using picks to dislodge the soil beneath,” says Neyenhuis.

 “Once the old plant material, moss and old soil was removed, it was time to replant—but planting 6-in. plant material into a 2-in.- square mesh was a challenge. Wire cutters were used to cut the mesh into larger squares to accommodate the plant material.

  “More than 200 6-in. plant materials were used on this green wall,” Neyenhuis continues. “Each plant was removed from its grow pot and individually wrapped in capillary matting to help sustain moisture for longer periods of time, with wires used the secure the plants and prevent them from falling from water weight.”

After the top portion of the green wall was planted, it was mounted to the wall. Weighing in at nearly 200 lbs., it required six Ambius colleagues to lift, mount and install the wall.

 “Planting then began on the lower portion of the wall,” says Nath, who had her install team standing on ladders, which was a strenuous balancing act. “The install team had to be very careful to seamlessly carry the design portion from the top to the bottom of the wall. Ensuring the right irrigation system was in place was of paramount importance. We created a sprinkler for each 6-ft. plant by running zigzag lines from top to bottom.”

 Results

“12 hours and six exhausted team members later, the project was completed,” says Nath, who with her team, received an Award of Excellence for the hotel’s living wall installation at the 20th annual PIA Interior Plantscape Hall of Fame and Awards Banquet at the Plantscape Industry Expo 2012.

 “We were dazzled by the amazing work that the Ambius team did in such a short time,” says Walker. “The ‘wow factor’ of the healthy, living green wall on our rooftop terrace has been a positive factor in securing events for the hotel, and is a great backdrop for photos for weddings, private parties and our thriving club scene.”

 “Designing, building and installing beautiful yet functional and environmentally beneficial green walls takes experience and practice,” says Denise Eichmann, senior project manager for Ambius. “In a buyer-beware marketplace, it’s important to invest in a living wall system that has a proven track record of sustainability and to select an installer who has a well-documented history of successful installations with full-scale maintenance capabilities to warrant both plants and irrigation.”

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