Notre Voyage Fantastique: Chicago & Patrick Blanc

September 14, 2011 at 11:40 pm

All Photos by Caroline Menetre Unless Otherwise Noted
Story by Linda Velazquez and Caroline Menetre

Along with my son and cameraman Joey Velazquez, our Greenroofs.com contributor Caroline Menetre and I flew up to Chicago on September 10 to interview world renown French botanist, Patrick Blanc,  at the beautiful 4-star Sofitel Chicago Water Tower for the upcoming Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011.

We had an awesome time with him and  thoroughly  enjoyed our short stay in the Windy City!  Caroline goes first and then I’ll follow with my reflections:

Caroline Menetre: Last Thursday I had the fantastic opportunity and pleasure to go to Chicago with Linda and her son,  Joey  (known for his  photography and  film work – he’s also the director/videographer for the Sky Gardens – Greenroofs of the World™  videos),  for her exclusive pre-summit interview with Patrick Blanc.

Most of you Greenroofs.com devotees know of the noted French botanist and artist and his spectacular green wall installations all over the world.  I can honestly say this man’s work was (one of) the main impetuses for me going back to school in horticulture and to some day design like he does.  (I can dream, can’t I?)

There are numerous facets of Patrick’s knowledge and skills to admire, but as an artist I’m drawn to the design aesthetics, and well…he’s the master.  Each installation is a magnificent work of art.

It was an honor to meet Patrick, and a thrill to sit-in and listen to such an intimate interview and conversation.  He was enthusiastic and passionate about his work, understandably.  I aspire one day to actually see some of his installations in person. And should Atlanta ever be the lucky recipient of his work, I’ll be the first one on-site. (Linda told him I would happily volunteer for any work!)

Linda will expound on the exclusive interview with Patrick, so I will just give a brief synopsis of our quick trip.  We arrived early in the morning and went straight to the “magnifique” Hotel Sofitel for Joey (videographer extraordinaire) to set up for shooting later that day.

Patrick had two lectures that day – a master class to graduate students at the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of technology and the Alliance Française de Chicago (he had also given a lecture the day before at the Chicago Botanic Gardens),  so we had some time in between sessions for a quick stroll around “the greenest, most environmentally friendly city in the nation.”

I could go on and on about all of the greening and environmental efforts achieved in Chicago, but the most obvious visual aspect is the lushly planted medians and storefront streetscapes. While the average Chicago visitor marvels at the upscale boutiques, restaurants, and hotels along “The Magnificent Mile” on Michigan Avenue, I strolled the stretch with head down, scanning from curb to curb, oohing and aahing at every plant and artful planting (shops? what shops?).

Of course, I had to photograph most of them for planting inspiration, and I also saw them as beautiful floral paintings – even did some effects on a few:

 

During our meandering travel towards  Millennium Park, we did take a detour – into the Apple Store – to inquire if we could see their greenroof.  Not accessible to the public, we were treated to a behind the scenes tour up on the top floor where the employees can enjoy overlooking their greenroof from the huge glass expanse of their conference room.  Very nice!

And finally, before heading back to the hotel, we strolled the famous expanse of the 1 million+ sf greenroof that is  Millennium Park, and the beautiful Lurie Garden – the featured nature component of one of the world’s largest greenroofs.  The 2.5- acre garden is a combination of perennials, bulbs, grasses, shrubs and trees.  It was a beautiful day to enjoy the park, and an additional pleasure to our trip.


Chicago and Patrick Blanc.  These are a few of my favorite things…

Linda: Chicago was beautiful and we had a great day overall – neither Caroline nor I had been back here in a few years, and Joey had never been, so it was great roaming around like tourists.  When we passed the Apple Store and Caroline suggested we stop in and see if we could actually visit the roof, I thought she was crazy – but, after showing my card – we were in!  Very cool GreenGrid modular greenroof!  The  employees  love it.

Believe it or not, I had never made it previously to  Millennium  Park – wow, what a great job the City of Chicago and all the excellent designers did on creating such an interactive and attractive space for all to enjoy!

Of course the highlight was capturing Patrick Blanc on film and creating an interview to remember.  When Patrick agreed to speak at our  Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 last June, we weren’t sure what format he’d be using because of his hectic travel schedule.  So when we were offered the chance to interview him here in the U.S., we jumped at the opportunity.  What a charmer he is, and what a pleasure we had!

“As a botanist, Patrick Blanc is at home in the jungles from Bali to the Amazon. As a landscape artist, he has brought breathing walls and biodiversity to the grandest hotels, restaurants and stores of Le Tout-Paris and worked with French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier on the catwalk. But what the man with green hair is best known for is the “vertical garden”, an idea seeded in the heart of Paris on rue d’Alsace that spread to Jean Nouvel’s Quai Branly Museum before being exported all over the world.” ~ Chicago.Cervantes.es

Very charismatic, “The Green Man” had on his customary green accents – flowered shirt, gorgeous brocaded paisley Indian jacket, shoes, streaks in his hair…

A genuinely nice guy, Patrick is best known for creating the hydroponic  Le Mur Végétal or  the Vertical Garden living wall system.  Also a botanist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, he specializes in plants from subtropical forests and spends several months out of each year combing lushly foliated jungles and other exotic landscapes in search of new species for testing and additional research for use in his creations.

Of course, his work is highly popular and he is insanely sought out as a botanist, artist, and designer.  We talked about some of his current projects, like Central Park in Sydney, Australia, with architect and long time collaborator Jean Nouvel, where over 12 vertical gardens envelope the façades with garden boxes and vertical wires incorporated into the loggias that wrap the towers in plant life.

Although Aramis and I met Patrick last November when I spoke at the International Skyrise Greenery Conference in Singapore, the only work of his that I have seen live is the gorgeous living tapestry at the Musée du quai Branly in Paris, which we also talked about – these are a few of my photos from May of last year:

Yet over the five years of our Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design, Haven Kiers and I have highlighted many of his projects – whether conceptual (top below) or real (bottom below), they simply are all stunning! Look for some more of Patrick Blanc’s works during this year’s Top 10 List,  which  we’ll be inaugurating at the  Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011.

Patrick is very passionate about his work and very optimistic about the future of ecological design.  We spoke about his early inspirations and aspirations – and I mean early.  He was into tropical aquariums and plants at the tender age of five and started creating and manipulating designs at eight!  Clearly, his scientific mind was off and running, and it hasn’t stopped since.

After my interview, Patrick signed my copy of The Vertical Garden: From Nature to the City, 2008 – a big, beautiful coffee table book that just happens to capture his spirit, work, and purpose in glorious color.  But, stay tuned – the upcoming revised edition with profiles of all his new projects is coming in October, 2011!  I guess I’ll just have to buy it, too…

Patrick’s integration of the huge number of plant species he always includes in his work is a testimonial to his belief in the value of plant community biodiversity.

His quick smile and easy laugh plus his open sharing of ideas made our interview very pleasant and fun – look for about 30 minutes of my exclusive interview with him on September 27, 2011, interwoven with film from one of his recent lectures.

If you haven’t registered yet for the Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011, please do so here.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Jean-Luc Le Gouallec of MurVegetalPatrickBlanc.com for inviting us,  Aimée Laberge of  the Alliance Française de Chicago (who, along with Air France, the participation of the Services Culturels of the French Consulate in Chicago, the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Chicago Architecture Foundation and the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology sponsored Patrick’s visit) for arranging our Chicago visit,  Carrie Makris of the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower who graciously allowed us to scope out the best site and set up filming,  and most importantly to the lovely and talented Patrick Blanc for his time and participation!

See you online on September 27 & 28!

~ Linda V. & Caroline Menetre

Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011: Don’t Miss 7 Expert Panels!

September 8, 2011 at 1:32 am

Last week I told you about our Keynote Speakers for the Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 –  Andrew Grant, Charlie Miller, Ed Snodgrass and Ralph Velasquez –  awesome thinkers, designers, trend setters, eco-luminaries all of them!  And among others, we have French botanist and modern green wall pioneer  Patrick Blanc, whom I’m interviewing this afternoon in Chicago…

See the GGW Virtual Summit  Speakers page and  Agenda to learn all about each presenter and their presentations or the panel sessions.

Speaking of our panel sessions, we have seven very distinct, innovative, and important collaborations that you are sure to enjoy and learn from personal experiences of movers and shakers in their respective fields from international non-profit, private and university level to U.S state, city, and borough level to professional association, private enterprise, and corporate experiences.

Click on the photos or titles to learn more about each  scheduled  time slot on the Agenda and each individual  – they all have live Question & Answer sessions afterwards, so don’t miss them to pick their brains on how they are  succeeding  in greening our roofs and walls:

Biodiversity and Greenroofs” above  left to right:  Christine Thuring (Moderator),  Nathalie Baumann, Dusty Gedge,  and  Gary Grant discuss original research and unique experiences, from field work upwards to bigger picture perspectives, as well as corresponding experiences with legislation on urban nature conservation.

Christine is moderating the panel on “Biodiversity and Green Roofs” where she also speaks about her research on plant community development and ecological processes on extensive green roofs with time.  Nathalie speaks about “Green Roofs / Natural Roofs = Biodiverse Habitats and Ecological Compensation in Urban Space: 15 Years of Experience in Switzerland.”  Dusty speaks about “Designing and Working for Biodiversity on Green Roofs for Over 10 Years.”  And Gary speaks about “My First Biodiverse Green Roof in 1992, Considerations for Planning and Design and Some Thoughts on the Future.”

 

Greenroofs & Walls for Educational & Social Equity in the Bronx” above left to right:  Robert Bieder (Moderator), Jon Beuttler, Jess Dannhauser, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Javier Lopez, New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera, and Steve Ritz.  Fueled by a passionate and committed Bronx Borough President, Ruben Diaz Jr., it is common knowledge that the Bronx is leading NYC in embracing green technologies and the green economy. To wit, the policies and educational initiatives underway in and of the Bronx are making dramatic strides in the quality of life and opportunities for all residents with concentric benefits and ripples felt citywide, statewide and nationally.

This panel featuring: a State Senator, noted business leader, NYC project manager, health care manager, social service providers and a dedicated educator speaks to triple bottom line benefits, impacts and the uses of green roofs, green walls, and urban agriculture as highly replicable, critical components to creating and leveraging social equity and economic and educational opportunities in challenging times.

 

The Portland Ecoroof Program: A Cross-section of the Green Roof Movement in Portland, Oregon” above left to right:  Tom Liptan, Matt Burlin, Amy Chomowicz, Casey Cunningham, and Alice Meyers.  The Portland Ecoroof Program started in 1996 when a city employee constructed an experimental ecoroof on his garage.  From this small start, the program has grown and as of July 2011 there are over 420 green roofs of varying sizes, on all types of buildings, from multi-story apartment complexes and commercial buildings to humble sheds, kiosks, and garages.  These green roofs cover nearly 30 acres of Portland rooftops (extensive and intensive roofs).

The Portland Ecoroof Program consists of technical support, incentives, education, policies, and research.  The program is incentive-based rather than regulatory, and the city’s policies reflect this approach.  This presentation provides an overview of how these program elements work with the private sector and general public to sustain the green roof movement in Portland.

 

Vertical Agriculture: A Global Movement Starts Locally, from Walls & Roofs to Table” above  left to right:  George Irwin (Moderator), U.S. Congressman Tom Reed, and Tom Ferraro.  Urban agriculture is on the rise globally – up the walls and on rooftops.  Fresh, local crops benefit the entire community for many reasons.

U.S. Congressman Tom Reed from the 29th district of New York, Tom Ferraro, CEO of Foodlink – a national network of 200 food banks – and George Irwin, CEO of Green Living Technologies International (GLTi), provide interactive conversation and commentary concerning the impact of education, economics and opportunity around local food production with green walls and roofs.  Rochester-based GLTi started in New York City and has since grown nationally and internationally through education and collaborative hands-on projects with local youth, the underprivileged and disadvantaged in New York and Los Angeles and with business partnerships in Santiago, Dubai, and beyond to include their Food Factory and more.

 

Wind. Water. Heat. Grow. Greenroofs.” above left to right:  Dr. Bill Retzlaff, David Aponte, Kevin Songer, and Joe Webb.  Greenroofs are impacted by wind, water and heat on an unrelenting basis.  Through wind trials and real hurricane survival stories in Houston, TX, Jacksonville, FL, Edwardsville, IL, and Puerto Rico, we have met those challenges and will discuss various projects’ responses and successes to Hurricanes Ike and (any others?).  Drought, hot winds, and unseasonable 100 ° days can also quickly desiccate or kill greenroof plants.

Dr. Bill Retzlaff moderates discussing wind studies and plant trials for greenroofs at SIUE. Joe Webb talks about his project which endured 110 to 120 mph winds and 11″ of rain in 24 hours and shares water mapping and Living Building Challenge Water requirements.  Kevin Songer talks about the Outdoor Turbine Hurricane Simulator at the University of Florida, water conservation through ‘nature-based irrigation design,’ and the importance of biodiversity.  David Aponte speaks to his experience of engineering and designing greenroofs with the correct growing media and plants in hurricane-prone, sub-tropical Puerto Rico.

 

Greenroofs: Wind & Fire” Panel above  left to right:  Kelly Luckett, Mike Ennis, and Jim Kirby.  No longer can the green roof be deleted from a project due to failure to comply with the fire code.  After three years in the making from members of Single Ply Roofing Industry in cooperation with Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), we now have a green roof design guide for minimizing the risk of fire on green roofs.  The securing of a place in mainstream construction through the International Code Council (ICC) has resulted in a milestone for the North American green roof movement. Fire concerns are only half of the code story as the wind design guide is still progressing through the ANSI process – we must overcome both the wind and the fire obstacle.

Kelly Luckett, President of Green Roof Blocks, moderates and shares his experiences representing GRHC with the consensus based ANSI/SPRI VF-1 and RP-14 standards.  Jim Kirby, NRCA’s AED, Technical Communications, provides NRCA commentary about building codes, vegetative roofs and RP-14.  Mike Ennis, Technical Director for SPRI, speaks to SPRI’s leadership leadership in the development of fire and wind standards and experience in the building code arena.

 

And, because the panel sessions weren’t stirring enough, we’ve ended with the “Green Roofs Without the Hype” Panel above left to right:  Patrick Carey, Dr. Robert Berghage, Charlie Miller, and Ed Snodgrass.  Here are four people with the knowledge to speak frankly about the current state of affairs in green roofing.  This panel focuses on the designation and evaluation of expertise, appropriate background and training, roadblocks to research and education, design origination and control, chain of custody issues, installation, and the residential market.

We hope you join us for this very interactive virtual experience – think film festival meets 2-day  webinar  and online expo extravaganza!

Pre-register or learn more by visiting:    virtual.greenroofs.com.  Don’t forget to pre-register by this Friday, September 9  for the discounted Early Bird rate of  only $49 ($25 for students/faculty and government professionals).

Brought to you by  Greenroofs.com, we’d like to thank to our Virtual Summit Sponsors TREMCO (Rare Earth) and  American Hydrotech (Emerald) and our Exhibitors and Media Partners – make sure to visit them at the  Expo Pavilions.

See you online on September 27 & 28, 2011!

~ Linda V.

See the Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 Agenda, Speakers Page & Trailer!

September 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm

The ever growing demand for sustainable design continues to grow across the world – especially with living architecture, and Greenroofs.com‘s inaugural Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit held online on September 27 and 28, 2011 is truly a groundbreaking event you can’t miss!

Join us as we inform, share, and create a global social media experience for learning and networking via the power of the Internet.   It’s a community destination that will allow you to connect with everyone in our growing community!

Over 50 speakers from around the world are joining us in the Virtual Summit including architects, ecologists, landscape architects, engineers, educators, industry CEOs, product manufacturers and suppliers, botanists, non-profit directors, government officials and representatives from the state of New York, cities of Portland, OR; Chicago, IL; and the Bronx.

We’ve just released our very impressive international speaker line-up for the Virtual Summit 2011 – you can now see the Speakers page and Agenda to learn all about each presenter and their presentations or panel sessions.

Our Keynote Speakers are thinkers, designers, trend setters, eco-luminaries:

“Imagine a world of green:
What are we doing to create organic architecture?”

Here are just a few more of the illustrious speakers we have in store for you:

Rosemarie S. Andolino, USA: The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) Commissioner will present “CDA Leads the Way for Incorporating Green Roof Space in an Airport Environment.”

 

Dr. Patrick Blanc, France: The renown botanist and creator of  Le Mur Végétal  will present “The Vertical Garden – from Nature to Cities” with an exclusive interview by Linda Velazquez.

 

Dr. Nigel Dunnett, UK: The Director of the Green Roof Centre and University of Sheffield Professor will present “Sky Meadows: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Diverse Green Roof Plantings.”

 

Paul Kephart, USA: The President of Rana Creek and ecological designer will present “Large-Scale Applications of Living Architecture.”

 

Xianmin Wang, China: The Deputy Chief of the Vertical Greening Academic Group of China Green Building Council; Vice Chairman of the International Rooftop Landscaping Association will present “The Current Situation and Future of Green Roofs in China.”

We’re treating our Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 as a production, and now you can see the trailer – it’s fast, fun, and informative and gives you a glimpse of presentations to come.  Watch just a few highlights from our stellar cast of greenroof and greenwall professionals below:

Don’t forget to pre-register by September 9 for the discounted Early Bird rate of only $49 ($25 for students/faculty and government professionals) for access on both September 27 and 28 and 30 days archived on demand through October 28!   Plus, you’ll be automatically entered for the chance to win the first of two Apple iPad2s that we’re giving away.

One random winner will be chosen from the Early Bird Pre-Registrations and one from attendees who have been the most active using the Social Collaboration Network, including all your online chatting and visiting our very important sponsor and exhibitor booths at the Expo Pavilions!

Pre-register or learn more by visiting:   virtual.greenroofs.com

Brought to you by Greenroofs.com, we’d like to thank to our Virtual Summit Sponsors TREMCO and American Hydrotech and our Exhibitors and Media Partners:

See our Press Release  here.  Join us for the sharing, networking and fun event of the year!

~ Linda V.


Singapore Conference Next Week: Great City, Great Discount: G3P94K04!

October 25, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Have you read our latest Guest Feature,  “Save the Date: Skyrise Greenery Conference Singapore (1st-3rd November)” by Wolfgang Ansel from the  International Green Roof Association (IGRA) and Dr. Tan Puay Yok, Deputy Director, Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology (CUGE), National Parks Board?

And are you still planning on attending in awesome Singapore on November 1-3, 2010 but haven’t registered yet?   Well, this is probably your last chance to make a final decision – organized  by CUGE, a project of the National Parks Board of Singapore, and the International Green Roof Association  (IGRA), the conference will be held at the National Library.

Remember that Greenroofs.com is the Media Sponsor and has negotiated a spectacular deal with the organizers, guaranteeing you a special rate package rate that includes the conference, tour excursion and dinner.    

The promotional code for registration under the special discounted rate of S$1000.00 (less than $750 U.S.) per conference package for Greenroofs.com readers is: G3P94K04 – compare that to the normal Package Rate of $1,650 U.S.!

Here are just some highlights:

More than 450 delegates from 25 countries have already signed up for the conference, including 70 from China!

Who are attending the conference?
“¢  over 120 policy makers
“¢  over 60 developers and building owners
“¢  over 120 professionals including architects and planners
“¢  over  60 contractors and suppliers
“¢  over  80 from the academia

A must attend event for all academias, architects, planners, building material producers, city planners, engineering and contracting services, government officials, horticulturists, landscape architects, park owners and managers, project consultants, real estate and property developers, and estate and facility managers.   Don’t miss this opportunity to network, share and start new business relationships!  

Sign up now and join us from 1-3 November to gain insights from world renowned award winning experts who will share about the latest trends and innovations on green roofs, skyrise gardens and vertical greenery.

Keynote Speakers:

Get Exclusive Access and Be Inspired by World-Class Skyrise Greenery Projects in Singapore:

Seven unique skyrise greenery sites will be offered on the skyrise greenery tour in Singapore.   Several of these are usually not open to the public.   Learn firsthand from the site architects about the challenges of building a 200m high sky park (the incredible Marina Bay Sands, see the graphic above and actual incredible infinity pool photo below that circulated the Internet a few months ago),  be inspired by the ingenuity of developing a low cost patented skyrise greening system that requires minimal maintenance, and more.

 

Also, from hotels to schools, shopping malls to a dam across a channel – you can visit 13 must-see skyrise greenery sites within the city in Singapore with their walking map.

To  see  the complete line-up of speakers, register, and learn more, visit the International Skyrise Greenery Conference website.   See you in Singapore next week, where I’ll be presenting  Haven Kiers and my 2010 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design– we can’t wait!

~ Linda and Aramis V.