Case Study – Permanent Botanicals Drive Lobby Green Trend at Locust Building in St. Louis
The Locust Building is a modern 12-story, 270,000-square-foot structure at 1015 Locust Street which is a block away from the Washington Avenue Loft District in St. Louis, Missouri.
Building tenants include Level 3 Communications, which is the leading international provider of fiber-based communications services, and non-profit companies and legal and accounting firms. When Sue Slocomb became property manager at the Locust Building, she was determined to update and modernize the look and feel of the lobby to complement the architectural beauty of the building.
“When I took over the management of this prestigious building, I wanted to update the lobby to reflect the modern and sophisticated nature of our tenants,” said Sue Slocomb, property manager, CBRE. “Our lobby had a tired jungle look that was outdated and uninteresting. After making a number of physical cosmetic improvements to the lobby including the addition of café tables in the lobby, new artwork, fresh paint and wood working, we sought to modernize our plantscaping.”
Slocomb turned to Charlee Storner, botanical stylist for Ambius, www.ambius.com, which offers a complete range of design and plant services for interior business environments, to freshen and enliven the lobby. “There were a mixture of artificial trees and live overgrown plants with an overall tired look,” says Storner. “The plants were not cohesive with the expensive high design elements that had been used in the remodel.”
“Additionally, the plant beds were shallow and leaked to the parking garage below,” said Storner. “In some cases the plant beds were backed only by drywall which is certainly not ideal for live plantings. We determined that to correctly prepare the beds to accommodate live plants would not have been cost-effective and there was a risk to the tenant vehicles parked below of water damage.”
A new trend taking root across workplaces are permanent botanicals which are botanically accurate replica plants made with authentic, dried stems and flowers from natural plant materials or with silk and plastics. Permanent botanicals do not attract insects, don’t require pesticides and create an allergy-free environment.
“Our approach was to develop a pattern of carefully placed permanent botanicals of Zen grass balls and Australian Dracaena heads in the beds,” said Storner. “Using these simple elements in an impressive scale allowed us to achieve a display that complimented the space without overwhelming the vision intended by the architect.”
“The use of replica plants eliminated the need for water which solved the problem of water leaking into the parking garage,” said Slocomb.
“The outcome was a striking yet understated landscape that evoked a sense of calm for our building tenants and visitors,” said Slocomb.
Plants are installed in buildings because they look beautiful and help to provide a tranquil environment in which to work or relax. “Tenants and visitors reach out to touch the permanent botanicals all the time and are amazed at how real and alive they feel,” said Slocomb.
“Everyone has been very positive about how much more modern and sophisticated the lobby’s greenscaping is now. In fact, the work has been so positive that we just contracted Ambius to make the outside of our building pop with creativity and verve.”
“I believe that a world without plants would be a bleak and austere world as nature possesses its own joyful power which we are able to harness and cultivate,” adds Storner. “Permanent botanical plantings are living art which can touch the soul, lift the spirit and improve the quality of life.”