Vertical Garden Debuts at Chicago Embassy Suites
Five years ago, vertical gardens started popping up in Asian buildings. It wasn’t long before they took root in the U.S. The Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown Lakefront is likely the first hotel in the country to grow such a dramatic example of the indoor landscaping tool. The wall went ‘live’ in late spring.
“Greens walls, right now, are the hottest thing in landscaping,” says Denise Eichmann, Senior Project Manager for Buffalo Grove, Ill-headquartered Ambius LLC. Ambius is the interior landscaping company that installed the wall.
“They’re a new trend,” says Eichmann. “Everyone is interested in them. A few years ago roof gardens were the thing, this adds another choice. It’s a fresh idea that has really taken off.”
As of yet, few exist on a large, commercial scale in the U.S. Embassy Suites’ evolutionary wall is a dramatic 40-foot long by 9-foot tall wall — 720-square feet counting both sides — in its fifth-floor lobby. Small fountains spring from shallow pools on each side.
The vertical garden is a lush spread of 3,840 plans, representing six species. These include hardy neon and golden pothos, rabbit foot fern, rex begonia and arboricola. They’re maintained by a computer-controlled irrigation system.
The wall started when issues arose with the hotel’s fountain. “It became an opportunity to do something more,” says Syed Hasan, general manager for the hotel. “We decided to do something eco-friendly as long as we were going to spend money. That’s where the idea came from. It evolved from there.”
“It cost us a lot of money — $400,000 — but I think it’s worth it,” says Hasan.
“Not only is it beautiful to behold, but it actively improves the lifestyle of people in urban environments as the average person spends the majority of their time indoors,” he says. “Our green wall also assists in reducing noise levels as plants absorb sound and it improves energy efficiency by moderating indoor temperatures and humidity levels.”
And, of course, the plants are continually removing carbon dioxide and renewing oxygen levels in the air.
The wall makes the Embassy Suites an environmental and landscaping leader. They’ve done what others are just talking about. “There are so many projects we’re involved in, in the drawing stage,” Eichmann says. “Architects are thrilled to have the option. They contribute to overall LEED points and help them get green building certification.”
By Paris Wolfe
This article first appeared in Lodging Hospitality