Janice Nath

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Case Study - Andaz San Diego

Green wall beautifies and renews environment at Andaz San Diego.

Green Wall

Situation:
An A-list and celebrity favorite for its posh accommodations and spicy nightlife, the Andaz San Diego is a boldly progressive hotel in the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. With its sleek style and fresh attitude, this chic hotel has become a hot-spot for visitors and locals alike. Andaz San Diego offers the Ivy Entertainment experience including the Ivy Nightclub, Ivy Wine Bar and Ivy Rooftop, a sultry rooftop bar and lounge with stunning skyline views, pool and private cabanas. However, the hotel’s green wall was not faring well. The plant material on the wall was essentially dead with the moss being spray-painted green to provide the illusion of a green wall.

“We reached out to Ambius as they are a preferred plantscaping vendor for Hyatt to transform a dying 200 pound green wall into a lush and vibrant wall that would create an inviting and welcoming environment,” said Clay Walker, director of engineering at Andaz Hotel San Diego CA by Hyatt. The wall is located on the top floor of the hotel, which houses the Ivy Wine Bar and Ivy Rooftop lounge and pool

Challenge:
“Designing and installing a green wall from beginning to end doesn’t seem like such a daunting task, but taking an existing, dying wall and working with what was already created by someone else and reviving it proved to be a major challenge,” said Janice Nath, ambiance architect for Ambius, a global interior and exterior landscaping company that is a division of the Rentokil Initial plc. group. “Our deadline was stringent,” added Nath. “The green wall had to be removed, replanted and reinstalled in one day.”

Green Wall

Solution:
“Most of the plant material on the green wall we inherited was dead or dying,” said Leslie Neyenhuis, service leader for Ambius. “There was nothing to support the weight of the living and dying plants, so the moss, soil and plant material was falling off the wall creating a mess on the floor. The irrigation was not working, so their former plant company had been spraying water on the plants to provide moisture, but it was not sufficient to keep the plants alive.”

In order to replant the green wall, Ambius had to remove the dying wall in two pieces; each weighing more than 100 pounds. “The entire wall was covered by a 2-inch-by-2-inch mesh grid, and the existing soil, moss and plant material had to be removed by using picks to dislodge the soil beneath,” said Neyenhuis.

“Once the old plant material, moss and old soil [were] removed, it was time to replant; but planting 6-inch plant material into a 2-inch square mesh was a challenge,” said Neyenhuis. “Wire cutters were used to cut the mesh into larger squares to accommodate the plant material. Over 200 6-inch plant materials were used on this green wall. Each plant was removed from its grow pot and individually wrapped in capillary matting to help sustain moisture for longer periods of time with wires used the secure the plants and prevent them from falling due to water weight.”

After the top portion of the green wall was planted, it was mounted to the wall. Weighing nearly 200 pounds, it required six Ambius colleagues to lift, mount and install the wall. “Planting then began on the lower portion of the wall,” said Nath who had her install team standing on ladders, which was a strenuous balancing act. “The install team had to be very careful to seamlessly carry the design portion from the top to the bottom of the wall.” “Ensuring the right irrigation system was in place was of paramount importance,” said Nath. ”We created a sprinkler for each 6-inch plant by running zigzag lines from top to bottom.”

Green Wall

Results:
“12 hours and six exhausted team members later, the project was completed,” said Nath, who, with her team, received an Award of Excellence for the hotel’s living wall installation at the 20th Annual PIA Interior Plantscape Hall of Fame and Awards Banquet at the Plantscape Industry Expo 2012. “We were dazzled by the amazing work that the Ambius team did in such a short time,” said Walker. “The ‘wow factor’ of the healthy, living green wall on our rooftop terrace has been a positive factor in securing events for the hotel and is a great backdrop for photos for weddings, private parties and our thriving club scene.”

“Designing, building and installing beautiful yet functional and environmentally beneficial green walls takes experience and practice,” said Denise Eichmann, senior project manager for Ambius. “In a buyer-beware marketplace, it's important to invest in a living wall system that has a proven track record of sustainability and to select an installer who has a well-documented history of successful installations with full-scale maintenance capabilities to warrant both plants and irrigation.

“Living plants require water, nutrients and light to survive, and they need the right varieties of plants for their environment to thrive,” Walker added. “Ambius understands that healthy green walls require their own ‘life support’ system comprised of a supporting structure, a quality growing medium, an irrigation/fertilization system, and a drainage system to properly dispose of or recirculate the spent water.

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