For additional information on the International Flavors & Fragrances Living Wall, contact Alan Burchell, Urbanstrong: Aburchell@urbanstrong.com, (914) – 893 -2782
The client, International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF), was interested in a living wall for the renovation of their R&D facility lobby. IFF artificially creates flavors and fragrances based on extensive studies of plant species. Known for walking the talk in the world of sustainability, IFF wanted a living wall solution that complemented the rest of the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ building materials and finishings selected by their design firm William McDonough + Partners architects.
The Urbanstrong team consulted IFF on all living wall systems available on the market. After factoring in their design goals and available infrastructure, the tech chosen was a modular hydroponic planting panel system with an automatic non-recirculating irrigation system. This system was chosen for its high content of recyclable materials, inorganic growing media, unlimited planting surface (non-pigeon-holed), high energy and water-efficient operation, ultra-low plant turn-over rate, and wide potential plant palette, and local greenhouse/assembly facility. IFF felt this highly sustainable system was reflective of their commitment to environmental stewardship.
Our team was chosen for the proven expertise of each of its respective members: our sales consultant proved to be familiar with and provided candid reviews of, a wide selection of living wall technologies. The manufacturers were chosen for their botany education allowing them to ‘speak the client’s language.’ The installation and maintenance team was chosen for their extensive knowledge of plant care and interior-scaping, and long track record of efficient work, satisfied customers, and long-lasting healthy installations.
To directly reflect the facility’s nature, our team dedicated a portion of the living wall to plant species currently being studied on site. That the wall is directly reflective of its context in this way was highlighted in the company’s internal newsletter sent globally to announce the living wall’s completion.
Located in IFF’s R&D facility, this stunning Living Wall is 575 sf and hosts 27 different plant species. Further, 10% of the wall is dedicated to featuring plant species that IFF is currently working with.
The initial discussions around sales and concept design began months prior to installation. Next, plant palette selection and pre-growing. After a few weeks, we inserted the plants into the panels in a vertical orientation, as we would permanently arrange them. A few weeks later the on-site installation began. First, our team installed the horizontal hanging brackets. Then came the drip trays, irrigation, and frames. On the third day, we hung the panels in place and connected the built-in drip lines between panels. The next morning we made final adjustments and voila! The entire installation went down without a hitch! We were able to limit on-site installation to only 3.5 days by pre-planting the panels.
The plant palette of the International Flavors & Fragrances Living Wall was selected to appeal to a broad range of senses such as texture, color, and depth. To reflect the nature of the client’s business, particular attention was given to fragrance during plant species selection. Plant List (all 4″ pots): Adiantum hispidulum, Aeschynanthus longicaulis, Aeschynanthus radicans “Rasta”, Anthurium “Orange Champion”, Asplenium dimorphum x difforme, Calathea “Burl Marx”, Columnea “Chocolate”, Davallia fejeensis, Ficus repens var / Vriesea “Splenriet”, Ficus repens / Neoregelia “Voodoo Magic”, Microsorum diversifolium, Pellonia pulchera, Philodendron “Jungle Boogie”, Philodendron cordatum “Neon”, Polypodium formosanum, Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, Rhipsalis burchelli, Rhipsalis capilliformis / Alocasia, Scindapsus / Asplenium nidus, Scindapsus pictus “Silver Satin”, Spathiphyllum “Mojo”, Vanilla planifolia “Variegated”, Hoya tricolor, Phlebodium aurem.
Additionally, a few different plant species (e.g.: Coffee Plants and Vanilla Orchids) from the client’s on-site research greenhouse were installed on the wall to reflect current research on various species’ inherent flavors or fragrances.
Additional details about the International Flavors and Fragrances Living Wall system components:
Type of System
The EcoWall living wall system is made up of modular panels containing a hydroponic (soil-less) growing media made from a proprietary foam. The foam was designed to hold precisely the right amount of water to support plant irrigation needs without drowning the roots. The foam’s ideal density minimizes water retention loss due to gravity to maximize water efficiency. A 3-foot by 3-foot low-density polyurethane shell contains the foam, along with layers of different felts and drip hose irrigation tubing. The panels are planted and pregrown months in advance at the EcoWalls facility. The result is an immediately seamless tapestry of plants upon installation. This also dramatically reduces installation time compared to systems that require planting on site. The panels are hung on J-clip brackets mounted to the wall. A trim surround and drip tray frame out the system.
Type: Catch basin, direct-to-drain.
Components: Description/Special features: The catch basin is a drip pan/gutter located directly underneath the living wall to divert used water to an attached wastewater line for this non-recirculating configuration.
Irrigation Type and Manufacturer
Description/Special features: Drip Irrigation System: Consists of a series of flexible drip tubing that is run through the irrigation conduits at the top of each planting panel (EcoWall). Horizontal drip tubing contains a pressure-compensating, self-cleansing inline drip emitter spaced 6″ on the center for appropriate administration and saturation of planting panels. Riser/supply lines are PVC pipe, and fittings are glued PVC connections. Equipment is attached to main feed irrigation lines that access the internal drip irrigation system. This system can incorporate hard plumbing lines (such as PVC or polyethylene plastics) or flexible tubing.
Type of Waterproofing
Cold applied, self-adhering waterproofing membrane composed of high strength polyethylene film coated on one side with a layer of butyl rubber adhesive such as SubSeal-40™.
Materials and Construction
For the building renovation, the client contracted William McDonough + Partners architects to create a compelling theme for the final fit and finishes for the new lobby. Many of the materials used throughout, including the wood bark-like paneling on the walls around the reception desk and elevator banks, are Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certified™ products, to tell stories about environmental sustainability and reflect the client’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
For this reason, the architect and the client particularly appreciated several elements of this particular Living Wall system:
1) MATERIALS: living wall growing media panels and supporting structure are entirely made of recyclable materials,
2) LOCAL: much of the work is sourced locally in the state of NJ. The plants were grown out, and the modular panels were assembled and planted all in the same nearby greenhouse less than 50 miles away.
3) EMISSIONS: Our team’s installation and maintenance crew are all local to NJ. This dramatically minimizes travel miles and emissions during the project’s total lifecycle.
4) ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABILITY: The system is comprised of several rows of modular 3ft by 3ft panels several inches thick. Its design allows for free root migration throughout the living wall, rather than restrict the plant to a container or compartment. Unlike other living wall technologies with limited root growth area, plants in this system never pot-out or become root-bound. Allowing the roots to expand and grow freely dramatically reduces the plant turn-over rate resulting in healthy, lush unbridled growth and a much more ecologically sustainable system. The mechanics and planning for this living wall are equally as “green” as the plants are in the vertical garden.
Additional International Flavors & Fragrances Living Wall Info
Test/Research Greenwall: Yes, the wall served a dual purpose, as some of the plant species were selected to conduct research.
Amenity Access: The area around the living wall has become a meeting place for employees and visitors.
Privacy: While accessible to all employees and official visitors, the lobby is not otherwise open to the general public.