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’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:

David Aquilina

Phipps Conservatory Showcases Vertical Gardening on Display with LiveWall

David Aquilina, Strategic Storyteller (, 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; Press Release: New 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit Website

March 10, 2017 at 4:45 pm Press New 2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Website

Alpharetta, GA USA ( Press Release – March 9, 2017)., the greenroof and greenwall industry’s resource and online information portal and producer of the biennial Virtual Summits, is excited to announce the new website release of their 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit: Connecting the Planet + Living Architecture ~ People, Projects & Design!

The 4th biennial web-based 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit highlighting excellence and lessons learned in green living architecture will be held from April 9 – 30, and on demand through December, 2017.

Beautiful, bold graphics herald the new design with easy navigation. An Agenda packed with a provocative lineup of speakers and live streaming Q & As with speakers on Facebook Live promise to create an extraordinary global social media experience for learning and networking completely online during April, Earth Month.

Attendees can enjoy the Virtual Summit from their desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone or any streaming device Press New 2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Website

For 2017 is thrilled to have these renowned luminaries as Keynotes: Press New 2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Website

  • Trailblazing green architect, graphic and industrial designer Emilio Ambasz, designer of the ACROS Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall in Japan and the Veneto Eye Bank Foundation in Venice, among numerous others;
  • Noted botanist and researcher Patrick Blanc, PhD, inventor of the Vertical Garden, or Le Mur Végétal, whose over 250 biodiverse designs include the One Central Park in Sydney and the Quai Branly Museum in Paris;
  • Educational, affordable local food systems, and workforce development innovator Stephen Ritz, responsible for the new National Health, Wellness and Learning Center at CS 55 in South Bronx and founder of the Green Bronx Machine;
  • Industry leader Joanne Rodriguez, CSI, CDT, LEED AP, with two decades of experience working within the building products and construction communities, with an emphasis on sustainable building impacts and high performance building envelope assemblies.

Explore current trends in living architecture, classroom food literacy, certified student workforce training, sustainable stormwater design, rooftop urban ag and more, from the micro-scale of dwellings to the macro-scale of cities. With easier and more socially interactive online platforms, invites you to attend and come network along with a host of fellow influencers from around the world, and bring your voice to the global table.

“Join us online for our 2017 Virtual Summit on April 9th through the 30th – and on demand through December, 2017. Over 30 presenters from Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Israel, Italy, Puerto Rico, UK, and the U.S. will inspire you to Discover, Network & Share.

Watch and learn about the latest projects and developments in vegetated building envelopes worldwide, and interact with avant-garde architects, landscape architects, designers, educators, and leaders of government who have captured the essence of living with nature.” ~ Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP, Founder/Publisher of & 2017 Virtual Summit Host Press New 2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Website

See all of the engaging video presenters on the Speakers page.

New for 2017

Attendees can watch all of the videos completely within the Virtual Summit website environment. And true to’s commitment to world-wide affordability and accessibility, the 2017 Virtual Summit Registration Fees are $50 for Professionals and $25 for Students/Faculty & Government, along with free registration to the Expo Pavilion Trade Show and Facebook Live events:

  • In order to increase brand awareness and further showcase our Partners, the Trade Show held in the Expo Pavilion will be free and accessible to everyone across the globe.
  • Participants are invited to join in the Facebook Live Q & A broadcast events over the Earth Day Weekend on Friday, Saturday & Sunday, April 21, 22 & 23, 2017. Live video streaming is a fun, engaging way to connect with followers and the audience. Press New 2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Website
Registration will be open soon, along with the release of the final agenda. Follow all the event updates using #virtualsummit2017 on Twitter.

Support our ground-breaking work by becoming our Partner as a Sponsor, Exhibitor, or Association/Media Partner, or as an attendee.

For more information, come visit Press New 2017 Greenroofs Walls World Virtual Summit Website

About the Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summits: Connecting the Planet + Living Architecture: People, Projects & Design:
Produced by, in addition to increasing awareness of our market and industry the Virtual Summit 2017 is an interactive platform for idea interchange through a combination of keynote speakers, expert panel sessions, individual & collaborative videos, and streaming Speaker Q&As on Facebook Live. Held previously in 2015, 2013 and 2011, our biennial Virtual Summits are unlike any other event in the industry – held completely online without any carbon footprint and drastically reducing the price of attending and participating. Paid registration is required to watch the current year’s Virtual Summit videos, but after approximately one year after each event, they all are made all freely available online.  At present, we have 110 archived videos on our Virtual Summit playlists on YouTube.

Established in 1999, is an interactive website, online media company, vibrant social network, and the most comprehensive online resource for greenroofs, greenwalls and related fields promoting best practices in sustainability.’s Mission is as a catalyst for the growing green architecture industry and Earth’s connection to emerging trends of living architecture and nature-based infrastructure practices. We live in a blue-green world and represent an environmentally aware industry who protects our environment utilizing vegetated building envelope practices providing smart building solutions to our critical world issues of climate change, urban heat islands, renewable energies, stormwater management, CSO’s, water conservation, water & air pollution, flooding, wildlife habitat, urban greenspace, food security – and much more.

Updated daily, is the largest platform for greenroof and greenwall news online and is where diverse professionals find global projects in the international Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database and products and services in the Greenroof & Greenwall Directory for their own projects.  

Press Contact:
Aramis M. Velázquez | CEO, LLC.
Alpharetta, Georgia 30005

Video & Project of the Week for September 14, 2015: La Calahorra Green Wall

September 15, 2015 at 12:30 pm Project of the Week: 9/14/15


La Calahorra Green Wall
Elche, Spain
1,076 sf. Greenwall


Project Description & Details

The Calahorra Tower, or Torre de la Calahorra, is a rectangular Almohad style fortification, built between the late twelfth and early thirteenth century. Part of the ancient wall that surrounded the medieval village of Elche, it defended the entrance to the regional area of Alicante and previously served as the governmental seat. Located at the back of the tower is the square of Santa Isabel, and despite its excellent location, the small urban area previously held no defined use. To revive the zone, architect Antonio Maciá designed a project which combined a cafeteria, to serve as a destination and a reason to visit, and a vertical garden, to increase its attractiveness and bring many benefits to the city.

Situated on the party or flank wall adjacent to La Calahorra, both the design and the installation of the vertical garden were carried out by Paisajismo Urbano, using their own patented system. Adding to the challenge of combining a coffee shop within a vertical garden was the complexity inherent with a historic building. A metal structure had to be constructed for the vertical garden for plant support which includes automated drip irrigation. More than 3,000 plants belonging to 15 species of 5 different families were used, mostly endemic to the Mediterranean region. It is estimated that the green wall will produce about 90 tons of oxygen and retain about 10 kilos of metals from the atmosphere annually. After finishing the building process, the “vertical garden cafe” has become a new landmark for citizens, and its location has evolved from being a deserted area to having a continuous flow of pedestrians who can now enjoy a drink while watching a little piece of jungle in the city.

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


Year: 2014
Owner: Private
Location: Elche, Spain
Building Type: Commercial
Type: Living Wall
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 1,076 sq.ft.
Slope: 100%
Access: Accessible, Open to Public


Designers/Manufacturers of Record:

Architect: Antonio Maciá
Greenwall System: Paisajismo Urbano
Greenwall Design: Ignacio Solano, Paisajismo Urbano
Installation & Maintenance: Paisajismo Urbano


Project of the Week Video Feature

Watch the La Calahorra Green Wall 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 (or Wall)!

~ Linda V.

Video & Project of the Week for January 12, 2015: Hotel Santo Domingo Hanging Garden

January 13, 2015 at 10:37 am Project of the Week: 1/12/15


Hotel Santo Domingo Hanging Garden
Madrid, Spain
11,044 sf. Greenwalls


Project Description & Details

Located in the heart of Madrid, the Hotel Santo Domingo is a comfortable boutique 4 star hotel dedicated to artistic creation, designed to host all kinds of events and offer a full range of services. The proprietors decided to cover the barren interior courtyard walls since 70 out of its 200 rooms overlooked the bare space, but it was a challenge to create original, spectacular and stunning views. In line with the hotel owners’ artistic and ecological aesthetic, along with a desire to provide differentiation and added value to its customers, a spectacular living vertical garden was desired.

Designed by architect Félix González Vela, the beautiful inner courtyard showcases the world’s largest hanging garden (according to Guinness World Records as of November 23, 2011): an immense 1,026 m2 wall of greenery (including the vegetated terraced areas, 844 m² without) with an impressive 20 meter high waterfall. In total, more than 2,500 varieties of non-allergenic trees and shrubs, climbing plants and herbs highlighting seasonal species were used in 400 staggered planters of different sizes with about 40,000 liters of specially designed growing media. Eight trees reach 5 meters high and there are about 30 smaller shrubs; the vertical garden is estimated to absorb 25,000 kg of CO2 per year.

The hanging garden also has an advanced system of night lighting technology with LEDs that delight guests and visitors, offering a show of varying colors during day and nighttime. Inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the 22.9 meter high greenwall is one of the hotel’s masterpieces ensuring colorful year round vegetation.

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

Thank you to PRONATUR for supplying additional information about the Hotel Santo Domingo Hanging Garden.

Year: 2011
Owner: Hotel Santo Domingo
Location: Madrid, Spain
Building Type: Commercial
Type: Living Wall
System: Custom
11,044 sq.ft.
Slope: 2%
Access: Accessible, Open to Public


Designers/Manufacturers of Record:

Greenwall Designer: Architect Félix González Vela
Chief Executive Officer & General Manager: Antonio Núñez Tirado, Hotel Santo Domingo
Landscape Designer, Construction Manager & Maintenance: Manuel Pasquín Agero, Semper Veris
Plant Supplier: Los Peñotes Garden Center
Maintenance Company: Deorada Natura


Project of the Week Video Feature

Watch the Hotel Santo Domingo Hanging Garden – Project of the Week Video below or see it on our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube:

Did we miss your contribution? Please let us know to add you to the profile.

Would you like one of your projects to be featured? We have to have a profile first! Submit Your Project Profile.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.