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Visit the USG Biomedical Sciences & Engineering website. and the USG Facebook page. For more information on the Living Wall project, contact

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Case Studies

Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (BSE) Education FacilityCooper Carry; Lake|Flato; photos of Michael Singer Studio’s art installation.


April 6, 2020 3:43 video The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) Biomedical Sciences & Engineering Living Wall – Featured Project from on the greenroofsTV channel on YouTube; November 19, 2019 2:40 New BSE Facility at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) by UMBaltimore on YouTube; September 16, 2019 4:12 BSE Built for Breakthroughs by The Universities at Shady Grove on vimeo.


April 6, 2020 Featured Project: The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) Biomedical Sciences & Engineering Living Wall by Linda S. Velazquez on; December 17, 2019 GSky® Supplies Versa Wall® Indoor Living Wall to Maryland’s Universities at Shady Grove Press Release on; November 10, 2019 One campus, many schools: A new science building expands the ambitions of an academic hub by Nick Anderson in The Washington Post; November 8, 2019 We’re investing in science education to grow the future by Stewart Edelstein and Michael Knapp in The Washington Post; November 6, 2019 USG Celebrates Grand Opening for State-of-the-art Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Building in The Universities at Shady Grove.

The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) is a regional campus of the University System of Maryland. Bringing together a family of universities, USG offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs from nine Maryland public universities on one convenient campus in Montgomery County. USG’s fourth academic building, the $175 million Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Building in Rockville, Maryland was opened in late 2019. Doubling the footprint of the campus, USG will be able to increase enrollment capacity from its current 3,000-plus students to more than 7,500 over the next several years.

“On November 7, 2019 the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) celebrated the opening of its new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (BSE) education facility. The programs in this building — including healthcare, biosciences, engineering, computational science disciplines, and a community dental clinic — will prepare students in real-world settings to receive degrees in some of the most sought-after and fastest growing industries. Graduates will be ready to take on the jobs that power our region. This state-of-the-art facility shows strong performance in all areas of sustainable design and is registered with the certification goal of LEED Platinum.” ~ USG

Designed by Cooper Carry and Lake|Flato, the new six-level, 220,000-square-foot BSE building will provide USG with the opportunity to expand educational offerings and degrees in the STEM fields, including new programs from UMBC in life sciences, cybersecurity and engineering; from the University of Maryland, College Park, including the Clark School of Engineering; and from the School of Dentistry at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Key sustainability features of the building and project include the materials and resources used in construction; indoor environmental quality enhancements; protection of the local ecology in design and construction; water efficiency; and energy use.

GSky Plant Systems, Inc., a global industry leader in the design and production of interior and exterior green walls, supplied a Versa Wall® Indoor Living Wall for the Building IV Biomedical Sciences & Engineering facility at Universities at Shady Grove.

The Versa Wall® installation was part of a biophilic plan to bring interior and exterior campus environments into the building atrium, reinforcing the visual connection between the indoor and outdoor environment. Incorporating soft curves, the Versa Wall® features plants that are primarily shades of green complementing the interior of the building’s lobby area. A featured sculptural element composed of cast aluminum panels is integrated into the green wall; the Piney Branch Water Garden and these associated elements are a part of the State of Maryland’s Percent for Art Program.

“Another highlight of the BSE is a spectacular, outdoor public artwork entitled “Piney Branch Water Garden,” by the renowned Michael Singer Studio. The artwork – which connects directly to an elevated campus boardwalk that was built to traverse wetlands associated with the Piney Branch watershed – features harvested rainwater, flowing over layers of underwater sculpted surfaces and includes night lighting. Sculpted panels are repeated on a living wall of the interior of the building and represent abstractions of natural patterns, systems and structures referencing the scientific disciplines within the BSE.” ~ USG

“The living wall is meant to almost appear as an extension of the east courtyard exterior environment flowing into the building,” said Christopher Case, Project Engineer for Gilbane Building Company.

Featuring approximately 1,700 plants, the USG Biomedical Sciences & Engineering Living Wall measures 279 square feet and was designed by GSky’s Director of Artistic Horticultural Design, Debbie Kotalic.

The integration of the sculpted artworks was designed by Michael Singer Studio and each of the sculpted panels was created and installed by the Studio. The sculpted material nestled in the green wall is cast aluminum, which can also be found in the Water Garden outside.

“The sculpted aluminum details throughout the Piney Branch Water Garden are abstractions based on natural patterns, observed phenomena, systems, materials, and structures that reference the scientific and engineering disciplines found within the BSE building and the regional biotech cluster. While the interconnections between these patterns are primarily aesthetic, the intent is to both to raise awareness of various disciplines as well as inspire creativity and cross-pollination of ideas between science and engineering fields of study. The project has four sculpted patterns: Code / Decode, Forces, Systems / Networks and Structure.” ~ Michael Singer Studio

Equipped with the knowledge that plants help to improve general health and wellbeing, educational institutions are adding living green walls across the globe with the goal of increasing student performances. Studies indicate that simply being in the presence of plants can increase memory retention by approximately 20 percent.

The benefits of living green walls do not end at better test scores and memory retention. What could be argued as the most crucial component of a living green wall is the change plant life has on the mind and body. Because stress levels run high throughout the school year, green walls act as a catalyst to reduce stress and anxiety. The addition of greenery also decreases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to a reduction in headaches, dizziness and fatigue.

Engineered with a unique tray design for simplified installation and maintenance – plus higher water efficiency – the Versa Wall® is the most versatile system on the market. Featuring a modular design that allows for quick and easy installation, the Versa Wall® can be easily configured to any size and installed around doors, windows, corners, stairs, or columns. It can also incorporate other design elements, including artwork. Each Versa Wall® plant remains in its own four-inch pot, so full-grown plants can be swapped in quickly and cleanly, and walls can be redesigned at minimal cost to add seasonal color.

The GSky Versa Wall® system does not require constant watering, which promotes plant health and supports sustainability. Featuring patented vertical irrigation technology, the Versa Wall® system cuts water waste, prevents oversaturation, and boosts cost efficiency by automatically running a timed gravity-based irrigation cycle less than once a week, while other walls on the market may run several cycles each day.

“Light Columns and Living Wall

Three sculpted Light Columns emerge from the garden at the far western end of courtyard; their presence intended as a beacon to viewers from the eastern boardwalk and from within the BSE building. The Light Columns are composed of sculpted cast aluminum in order to contrast against the surrounding shaded context of the courtyard. In the evenings the Light Columns glow from within, with light emerging from apertures on all sides. Cast aluminum sculptural detailing from the Light Columns can also be found within the building nestled into the living wall just interior of the Water Garden, visually merging the two garden spaces when seen from inside.” ~ Michael Singer Studio

The complete Piney Branch Water Garden by Michael Singer Studio project is due for completion in 2020 after spring plantings are installed.

Completely customizable with vibrant tropical plants, the Versa Wall® enlivens decor, cleans the air, positively impacts the acoustic environment, and enhances productivity. The Universities at Shady Grove Biomedical Sciences & Engineering Living Wall showcases sustainable design in a building that visually connects inside and outside beautifully.


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