Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening with LiveWall by Amber Ponce and David Aquilina

November 19, 2017 at 3:58 pm

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

Outdoor LiveWall Installation Creates a Vertical Garden Growing Fresh Vegetables and Herbs to Promote Living Walls for Urban Horticulture

Photos Courtesy of Phipps and LiveWall®

Founded in 1893, the LEED Silver (2006) Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a local landmark in Pittsburgh, Pa. and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Phipps has been Pittsburgh’s green oasis for more than 120 years. Nearly half a million people visit annually. Historically, Phipps has excelled at showcasing the beauty of plants.

Today, the conservatory is a green leader among public gardens — recognized for its leadership and commitment to sustainability including environmental conservation, renewable energy, green building design, and healthy living. Their latest innovation in green leadership is the installation of LiveWall Green Walls.

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

Phipps offers a variety of adult and youth programs, classes and events to educate guests about the benefits of sustainable gardening, raised-bed vegetable gardening, local food production, and healthy eating. In addition, Phipps sponsors Homegrown, an outreach program dedicated to increasing community access to fresh produce, promoting better food choices, and improving the overall health of families.

Since 2013, the program has established more than 200 vegetable gardens in urban and underserved neighborhoods.

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

The Phipps Production Greenhouse before greening. Photo © Lofty Views.

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

However, space limitations for garden plots can be a challenge for urban gardening. That is why Richard V. Piacentini, executive director, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, encouraged the organization to explore green walls as a space-saving alternative.

“Growing vegetables and herbs on its green wall display is an innovative way for Phipps to demonstrate how families and community groups can grow their own fresh, healthy produce on vertical gardens if they do not have room for large garden plots,” said Dave MacKenzie, president of LiveWall.

Testing Green Wall Options

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

Starting in 2015, Phipps tested LiveWall Inspire Living Wall Panels alongside several other living wall systems on the south-facing wall of its Production Greenhouse Facility. Standardized Inspire panels are 4-feet wide and 7-feet, four inches tall. Each has 24 molded plastic modular planter boxes.

“The other options we evaluated all had shortcomings,” said Michael Bechtel, display horticulturist, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

“With just small pockets of growing medium, some of the other green walls dried out too fast on the sunny, south-facing wall. Others have plastic parts that did not withstand the hot summer sun and started to crack and snap off. In addition, with all the other green walls we tested, we had to water the plants by hand.”

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

According to Bechtel, LiveWall Inspire proved to be the system of choice because of its soil volume and depth for growing and sustaining plants on the sun-drenched wall, the strength and durability of its materials and components, and its integrated spray irrigation.

“It is most professional and well-designed system. The others just did not seem like they could hold up and scale up to the size of the vertical garden we wanted across the length of the Production Greenhouse Facility,” said Bechtel. “With its car bumper grade recycled plastic, the LiveWall planter modules are strong and durable.”

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

Inspire Living Wall Panels are pre-assembled green wall frames. They include vertical furring tracks that attach to the building wall and establish air space between the wall and the panels for ventilation. Rows of aluminum rails, which serve as conduits bringing water to each planter box, run horizontally across the tracks.

LiveWall molded plastic modular planter boxes then fit into place and are fastened onto the rails. Separate liner inserts, plant containers with growing medium and pre-grown plants, drop into the planter boxes. For outdoor installations, the system uses precisely metered spray nozzles for irrigation to water plants much like natural rain.

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

After completing initial testing in 2015, Phipps installed nine more Inspire standard panels in 2016. In the spring, beets, carrots, collard greens, kale, and kohlrabi grow in the vertical garden. Summer plantings include basil, rosemary, thyme, celery root, and various peppers.

Lessons Learned

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

Bechtel advises giving careful consideration to the growing medium selected for vertical gardening on living walls. In 2016, he experimented with a potting soil for the growing medium that was too lumpy and porous. Water flowed through too quickly. Switching to a different growing medium with better water retention qualities was a substantial improvement.

He and his colleagues have also experimented with various organic fertilizers. They found a slow-release granular product, which applied every two to three weeks during the growing season yields impressive growth.

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

Bechtel also has a supply of extra inserts for the LiveWall modules. He uses them to start plants in the greenhouse. Being able to easily swap the inserts in and out of the planter boxes on the wall is especially useful for transitioning from spring to summer plants as well as for preparing the living wall for winter.

The Fruits of the Garden

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

“With our green walls, we have the opportunity to study, evaluate and learn about growing edibles on space-efficient vertical gardens, said Bechtel.

“It is a forward-thinking approach that enables us to offer education and assistance to homeowners, schools and community organizations on planning, installing and maintaining their own green walls so that they can benefit from fresh produce.”

A visit to Phipps to see the green walls can be tasty as well as inspiring. Guests can see vegetables and herbs growing organically on the green walls and then taste them in delicious dishes served at Café Phipps, named by Food & Wine magazine as a “Best Museum Restaurant.”

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

The living walls with a view towards the Center for Sustainable Living. Photo by Michael Tessler.

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

  ~ Amber Poncé and David Aquilina

Publisher’s Note: The Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls are featured as Greenroofs.com’s Project of the Week for November 20, 2017.  See its Project Profile in The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

Amber Poncé

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

Amber Poncé is the Business Development Manager for LiveRoof Global, LLC. Since 2006, Amber Ponce has helped to expand the LiveRoof Global network of professional horticulturists and growers to an industry leading supplier of green roof systems. In her role as business development manager, she has trained dozens of professionals in technical aspects of green roofing. She has actively participated in the development of industry testing standards and building codes, and currently sits on the policy and growing media committees of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. She is an accredited Green Roof Professional with seven years hands on experience in green roofing – including experience with growing media formulation, plant selection and production, shipping logistics, installation and maintenance. Amber has helped participate in the development of standards related to green roofing and worked with a team of engineers to coordinate the first ever full-scale wind uplift test on green roofs.

Designed with a healthy regard for plants, LiveWall® is the patented living wall system that achieves simplicity and sustainability in harmony with nature. LiveWall is the result of four years of R&D by the professionals who created LiveRoof®, the superior green roof system. LiveWall green wall solutions are engineered with horticultural and structural features specific for indoor and outdoor environments. LiveWall supports plants as nature intended — roots growing down, stems and leaves growing up. With unsurpassed versatility to grow a diversity of plant types, LiveWall transforms ordinary walls into inspiring, thriving vertical landscapes that are simple to install and easy to maintain.

Contact Amber Poncé:
616.935.1964
AmberP@LiveRoof.com

David Aquilina

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

David Aquilina, Strategic Storyteller (www.linkedin.com/in/davidaquilina), is a corporate communications consultant and freelance writer.  David makes his home up on the edge of the northern prairie in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Contact David Aquilina:
612.716.5628;
davida@strategicstoryteller.com
StrategicStoryteller.com

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week for November 20, 2017: Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls

November 19, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Greenroofs.com Project Week Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls

Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
290 sf greenwalls

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week: November 20, 2017

Greenroofs.com Project Week Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls

Mini Description & Details

Founded in 1893, the LEED Silver (2006) Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has been Pittsburgh’s green oasis for more than 120 years. The Conservatory is a green leader among public gardens – recognized for its commitment to sustainability including environmental conservation, renewable energy, green building design, and healthy living. Built in 2006, Phipps Conservatory’s 36,000-square-foot Production Greenhouse earned LEED Platinum for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance in 2012, becoming the first greenhouse in the world to achieve this certification.

In 2016 Phipps’ latest step forward in its outreach mission was the installation of green walls to demonstrate how families and community groups can grow their own fresh, healthy produce even where garden space is limited. Designed and installed by Michael Bechtel, the Display Horticulturist at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, they have the opportunity to study, evaluate, and learn about growing edibles on space-efficient vertical gardens.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls

Greenroofs.com Project Week Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls

The Phipps Production Greenhouse before greening. Photo © Lofty Views.

After completing testing with several living wall systems on the south facing wall of its Production Greenhouse Facility, Phipps now boasts 10 LiveWall Inspire standard panels with a total of 240 LiveWall planter modules. In the spring, beets, carrots, collard greens, kale, and kohlrabi grow in the vertical garden. Summer plantings include basil, rosemary, thyme, celery root, and various peppers.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls

Greenroofs.com Project Week Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls

More

Phipps Conservatory puts vertical food gardening on display with its living walls, and growing fresh produce on the outdoor vertical garden both educates and inspires visitors. And, a visit to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to see the green walls can be tasty as well as inspiring. Guests can see vegetables and herbs growing organically on the green walls and then taste them in delicious dishes served at Café Phipps, named by Food & Wine magazine as a “Best Museum Restaurant.”

Greenroofs.com Project Week Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls

The living walls with a view towards the Center for Sustainable Living. Photo by Michael Tessler.

Year: 2016
Owner: 
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Location:
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Building Type:
Park
Type:
Living Wall
System:
Single Source Provider
Size:
290 sq.ft.
Slope:
100%
Access:
Accessible, Open to Public

Greenroofs.com Project Week Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls

Greenroofs.com Project Week Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:

Greenwall System: LiveWall
Greenwall Design & Installation: Michael Bechtel, Display Horticulturist, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Plants: Horticulture Department, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Greenroofs.com Project Week Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls

All the Info:

View the Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls to see ALL of the Photos and Additional Information about this particular project in
The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls

Project of the Week Video Feature

Watch the Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls Project of the Week Video below or see it on our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube:

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week 11/20/17 video photo credits: Courtesy of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, including © Lofty Views and © Michael Tessler; LiveWall; and Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens 132 By Daderot, Own work, 2009, public domain and Center for Sustainable Landscapes, Phipps Conservatory, 2015-10-10, 02 By Cbaile19, Own work, 2015 Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication, both via Wikimedia Commons.

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Love the Earth, Plant a Roof (or Wall)!

By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP
Greenroofs.com Publisher & Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit Host

Round #2 is open!  Register now for the 50% off discounted rate of only $25 and join us online for our 2017 Virtual Summit through December, 2017.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls

Video & Project of the Week for March 30, 2015: David L. Lawrence Convention Center

March 31, 2015 at 10:00 am

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week: 3/30/15

GreenroofandGreenwallProjectsDatabaseLogo

David L. Lawrence Convention Center
(Pittsburgh Convention Center)
South Terrace
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
22,400 sf. Greenroof

David-L-LawrenceConventionCenter1

Project Description & Details

Located in downtown Pittsburgh, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center effectively blends unparalleled space, functionality, and flexibility with cutting-edge technology to offer meeting planners, show organizers, exhibitors, and visitors a location for an unforgettable event experience. Its iconic design takes inspiration from the historic suspension bridges that span the Allegheny River adjacent to the riverfront site, and provides the latest chapter in Pittsburgh’s long history of engineering and technological innovations. At the time of completion, it was the only convention center in the world to receive LEED Platinum certification for Existing Buildings and LEED Gold for New Construction.

Designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, the South Terrace has the publicly accessible Living Roof – over 20,000 sqft of green roof space located on the third floor, cityside, featuring over 7,000 perennials, grasses, and sedums. The roof was designed to retain up to 80% of the annual rainfall by incorporating both extensive and intensive Roof Garden sections from Carlisle SynTec Systems. The extensive sections are vegetated using sedum mats while the intensive sections are vegetated using 75 different native and adaptive plant species. The Roof Garden with its water-jet cut blue paver plaza area reflects the nearby Allegheny River and speaks to the stormwater benefits of green roofs, creating a highly usable space that can be used by visitors or for special events. Based on research gathered by the US EPA, it is estimated that the South Terrace Green Roof will remove almost 680 pounds of particulate matter from the air annually, which is approximately equivalent to the annual emissions of 255 passenger vehicles.

Find more photos and additional information about this project in The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

New!  The David L. Lawrence Convention Center is featured in Greenroofs.com’s brand new 2015 Wallpaper Projects Gallery – download yours for free.

Year: 2011
Owner: The Sports & Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County (SEA)
Location: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Building Type: Commercial
Type: Extensive & Intensive, Test/Research
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 22,400 sq.ft.
Slope: 2%
Access: Accessible, Open to Public

David-L-LawrenceConventionCenter2

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:

Architect: Rafael Viñoly Architects
Single Source Greenroof System Supplier: Carlisle Syntec
Project Design/Architects: Pashek Associates
Roof System Installation: Cuddy Roofing & Eisler Landscapes
Construction Manager: Turner Construction/P. J. Dick/ATS
Photography: TJ Willetts, Burns & Scalo
Owners Representative Services: Oxford Development
Educational Signage & Research: The Penn State Center

David-L-LawrenceConventionCenter3

Project of the Week Video Feature

Watch the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Project of the Week Video below or see it on our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube:

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Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.

GPW: Heinz 57 Center/Gimbels Building Restoration

February 27, 2010 at 12:51 am

heinz57-h

Formerly the Gimbel’s Department store, the Heinz 57 Center  in Pittsburgh, PA, is a wonderful example of  urban renewal.  Closed and neglected for about 14 years starting  in the late eighties, the  now restored building has been put to reuse not only in a sustainable, but beautiful  way.   In 1998 architects Burt Hill Kozar Rittlemann Associates (now Burt Hill) were brought on board to redesign the historical but ailing structure.

heinz57-lamagAlong with McKnight Development Partners, the architects incorporated a dramatic 50′ diameter octagonal atrium which runs from the roof down through seven floors.   Suddenly flooded with natural light, the Heinz Corporation was  enticed to occupy the top seven floors for their North American headquarters.   Yet curiously, environmental concerns were not driving factors for  the greenroof then; aesthetics, however, definitely were.

Although the building itself was  surrounded by  a spectacular city panorama featuring  a soaring cathedral  amidst an eclectic mixture of towering skyscrapers,  the views from the lovely floor-to-ceiling windows of the fourteenth-floor  penthouse suite  were less than exciting or acceptable: a hot black rubber roof under an equally unappealing  nine-foot-high  brick parapet wall greeted Heinz occupants.   So the architects decided a pleasing landscape atop the roof would do the trick.

The Heinz 57 Center; Photo Source: The Post-GazetteCompleted in the fall of 2001, the Heinz 57 Center was the first vegetated roof in downtown Pittsburgh,  where executives  enjoy sweeping meadow vistas wrapping their offices and blanketing the thirty-foot-wide terrace.   Four informal seating areas constructed with high-density recycled plastic lumber decking and concrete paving blocks provide informal gathering spots;  by all accounts the colorful corporate roof garden is a hit!

Last year I was interviewed by Carmen J. Lee who was writing for h – The Magazine of the Heinz Endowments, reporting how “Pittsburgh roofs are the new fertile turf for environ-mentally sustainable construction projects that aim to dig in and blossom” in her article “Top Soil” (pages 24-31).   The Heinz 57 building was, of course, one of the sites featured and you’ll see I was quoted  with more  of an inspirational bent rather than specific to the project.   Carmen also profiled the local environmental group, 3 Rivers Wet Weather, which is responsible for utilizing $525,000 in federal funding plus a $125,000 Heinz Endowments  grant to sponsor a 2005 project to create more greenroofs here.

Heinz 57 Center; Photo Courtesy of Roofscapes, Inc.

Photo Courtesy Roofscapes, Inc.

In a city with an over-burdened sewer system with frequent overflows, Pittsburgh officials and researchers cite the greenroof project often as a fine example of sustainable redevelopment.   Situated within a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use business district with shops, restaurants and businesses, the Heinz 57 Center is worker friendly as well as eco-friendly, providing their 800+ employees with a variety of alternate forms of transportation.   Although Heinz executives may not have initially specified the extensive greenroof for ecological reasons, they certainly appreciate the many noticeable environmental benefits, such as  the cooling respite from the city canyon and the reduction of stormwater runoff; it’s estimated that the roof retains 55% of  yearly rainfall.

Heinz 57Center; Photo Courtesy of Roofscapes, Inc.

Charlie Miller, P.E., and his company Roofscapes, Inc.  have been responsible for a large number of award-winning greenroof projects, including this one.   His private and public portfolio runs the gamut from municipal to corporate, institutional to retail, and even includes some single-family residences.    Charlie won the 2005 Green Roof Award of Excellence  with the Heinz 57 Center/Gimbels Building Restoration in the Extensive Industrial/Commercial category, and we featured  it in the 2009 Greenroofs of the World Calendar™ by Greenroofs.com for the month of March:Heinz 57 Center in June of 2007, as illustrated in The 2008 Greenroofs of the World Calendar  

Over 18,000 plants were selected by Roofscapes, who used their Type III: Savannah Roofmeadow ® system.   Landscape architect Steven L. Cantor researched this project in depth, and you can read  his extensive case study including complete plant lists on pages 139-142 in the excellent book  Green Roofs in Sustainable Landscape Design,” 2008, available for purchase on Amazon.com.

The Heinz 57 Center; Photo Courtesy of Roofscapes, Inc.Steven  relates how  the Heinz 57 Center plant selection encompassed “32 xeric species from nineteen plant genera, including six North American natives; approximately one-third of the plants are sedums, and the balance  is a range of herbs, meadow grasses, and meadow perennials that provide differences in plant height, texture, and bloom color.”

It’s hard to believe, but the roof is not irrigated and has flourished with minimal maintenance, which includes  twice yearly  weeding and an annual light application of fertilizer.

Pittsburgh has really come along way from its gritty  industrial Steel Town roots, emerging as a  leader in green building.   According to the Green Building Alliance, as of July, 2009 the City of Pittsburgh is home to 39 LEED-certified buildings, ranked eighth in the United States for overall number of projects.  meadowsheinz

About two dozen more eco-friendly  greenroofs are found within metro Pittsburgh; read the May 19, 2009 article  “More city buildings cultivate savings by covering roofs with plants” by Sally Kalson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to learn about additional living roofs in the area.

We only have  a handful  of those references listed, so remember to send us case studies of these other projects so we may share it with all of you in the greenroof community in The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

Kudos to the designers, corporate leaders and all the stakeholders of this inspiring city-core  Heinz 57 Center  renovation  for their foresight –  environmental, aesthetic, or otherwise –  to successfully integrate a greenroof into the overall design for the benefit of the building’s occupants!

Heinz 57 Center, Courtesy of Roofscapes, Inc.

~ Linda V.