Green Walls Contribute to Golden 1 Center’s Re-definition of the Relationship between an Indoor Sports Arena and its Neighboring Urban Environment
All Photos Courtesy of LiveWall®
Green walls transform ordinary walls into vertical gardens. The transformation from commonplace wall to vertical landscape brings a living, organic element to a building. Whether installed indoors or outdoors, green walls are visually appealing and inviting, inspiring and healthful, and beneficial to the environment.
Golden 1 Center, the brand new home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, is the world’s first LEED Platinum certified indoor sports venue. The Kings set out to build the world’s most sustainable indoor arena, establish new standards for energy efficiency and water conservation, and re-define how a downtown arena relates to its surroundings. As fans approach Golden 1 Center, they see living symbols of the Kings’ commitment to sustainability: seven green walls totaling 4,800 square feet and featuring 5,400 plants.
The typical sports arena in a dense downtown area is an imposing and introverted monolith walled off from its environment with high exterior walls looming over the streetscape. Unconnected from their surroundings, most arenas are lifeless except on game days.
Designed by AECOM, the preeminent designer of NBA arenas, Golden 1 Center was envisioned to be very different. It celebrates Sacramento’s community values, climate and lifestyle with an innovative indoor-outdoor design that re-imagines how an arena can relate to the streetscapes around it. It creates a new heart for downtown Sacramento that expresses the city’s identity and values, reconnects neighborhoods, and revitalizes the area.
“We reversed the typical introverted arena with a design that reflects the region and connects to the city,” said Rob Rothblatt, exterior design lead, AECOM.
“The sunken bowl design, with seats below street level, fits Golden 1 Center into the site rather than dominating over it. The large glass hangar doors make the interior visible from the outside. The doors open out onto the plaza, which serves as a welcoming and active space — not just on game days but year-round — with civic art, outdoor searing, shade trees and rain gardens.”
“Unlike any other arena, the beautiful Golden 1 Center is the catalyst for the region, built on the foundation of the city’s ideals and values, a purposeful effort to think about our environment and resources, and profoundly impact the economy in Sacramento and beyond,” said Chris Granger, president of the Kings.
“The entire project is a model of sustainability. Our green walls are a prominent feature and represent the fulfillment of our vision.”
Completed in September 2016, the green walls were constructed with the LiveWall® system from LiveWall, LLC, Spring Lake, Michigan. The seven sections of green wall include 2,700 LiveWall modular planters. They are planted with 18 different types of plants and 5,400 plants in total. All flowering plants bloom in shades of purple, the Kings’ signature color.
Design Inspiration and Integration
“The inspired idea was to make the building look as if it rests on the green wall, rooting the arena in the landscape and extending the landscape from the new plaza up to the walls of the arena itself,” said James Haig Streeter, landscape design lead, AECOM.
“As people come up to the arena, it appears to emerge from the landscape, and they see vibrant bands of green that change with different sections displaying different plants based on the varying patterns of sun and shade around the building.”
The design and materials of the building’s façade evoke the granite and grandeur of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The green walls are positioned beneath Golden 1 Center’s distinctive reflective aluminum panels, which are etched with three-inch modernist leaf designs based on photographs of a leafy street in East Sacramento. The “Million Trees” panels with hundreds of thousands of leaves convey the sense of billowing valley oak tree canopies on the arena’s exterior. Depending on the time of day and position of the sun, the shadows on the leaves look different, and in combination with the building’s ceramic frit glass, the arena takes on different colors of silver and gold tones. As integrated elements, the glass, metal panels, green walls at the base of the building, and the landscape of the surrounding plaza (including a walnut grove) make Golden 1 Center come alive.
Green Wall Solution
In evaluating green wall system options for the project, AECOM considered several critical success factors. “We wanted a proven, tried and true system with well-engineered components that could scale up,” said Haig Streeter.
“It was important for the green wall design to provide adequate soil depth and volume to protect the plants and keep the walls from drying out in the heat of summer.
“The LiveWall planter modules are designed and look like window boxes. That makes it a system with features and functions the owners of the team could understand,” he said.
“For future maintenance, no system could be easier because you can switch out the module liner inserts with different plants.”
The Sacramento office of BrightView, one of the nation’s leading landscape services companies, installed the green walls. The installation includes 2,700 LiveWall planter modules. They attach to a unique aluminum rail and mounting track system, which is affixed to the structural wall and secures the planters and integrated irrigation components.
For commercial and public applications, landscape architects prefer green walls that are pre-grown. Florasource Ltd. (San Clemente, California), an independent horticulture supply company and LiveWall distributor, provided 5,400 plants in the planter inserts so that the plants would be hearty and ready for installation into the modular planters in September 2016.
AECOM and Florasource selected 18 different varieties of plants. In order to create an authentic vertical landscape, they chose plant species that are native to the area, or which have aesthetic qualities similar to native plants. To minimize supplemental irrigation requirements, all the plants are appropriate for the climate. When mature, many of the selected species will grow large enough to cover much of the green wall components. The exact plant mixes for individual green wall sections account for variations in prevailing patterns of sun and shade around the arena.
Shade is valued, prized and beneficial in Sacramento because of the climate. The north side of the building is shaded. That section of green wall has shade tolerant plants, and that part of the plaza features honey locust trees for shade and shade-loving plants at grade. The plant palette for the green wall thus complements the plantings in the landscape to take advantage of the shade and increase the amount of shade, and the horizontal and vertical landscape elements harmonize.
On the west side the foothills terrace area of the plaza is full sun. The green wall there is planted with aromatic spices, including sage and rosemary. The plants create an appealing aromatic sense around and within the space. On the south side of L Street, the plaza is above the level of the street, and there is a retail area along that section of the street at the base of the building, another way to connect the arena and enliven it at street level. The plant mixes on those walls emphasize ferns and grasses.
“Sacramento is full of wonderful green spaces, and our three-acre public plaza that wraps the arena had to be one of them,” said Granger.
It is all coming together at Golden 1 Center. The tree canopies and plants are filling in. The green walls bring the landscape up from the plaza to the arena, and the green wall plants in the context of the Million Tree panel design make the arena come alive in unity with its surroundings.
~ Amber Poncé and David Aquilina
Publisher’s Note: The Golden 1 Center LiveWall is featured as Greenroofs.com’s Project of the Week for March 13, 2017. See its Project Profile in The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.
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, 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.