Throughout history, gardens have been used to help in the healing process. From the meditative Japanese Zen garden to the monastic cloister garden, nature has proven to have certain biophilic benefits. With the onset of modern architectural advances in healthcare campuses in the 20th century, the use of gardens as healing elements began to diminish. Today, hospital healing gardens are beginning to be reimagined and incorporated as vital elements to healthcare design. A recent interest in complementary and alternative therapies, which emphasize healing the whole person—mind, body and spirit—rather than simply alleviating symptoms, is one of the main reasons why the interest in gardens as healers has been revived.
Challenging site considerations can also present healing garden opportunities as was the case with Holy Cross Hospital. A narrow sliver of space separated the front façade of the hospital from the two-story, partially submerged parking structure. Unfortunately, the parking structure served as the true front door of the hospital. The landscape architects presented with this design challenge utilized the narrow space to provide users with intimate settings, a water element for noise abatement, wildlife habitat, vertical elements and naturalistic plantings. The buffer between architecture and functional space is greatly enhanced, and on a pleasant day the garden’s usage is evident.
A brief glance at the design criteria manual for the Valley Metro Rail system project highlights the importance of providing shade to users of the system that connects Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Glendale and Peoria in Arizona. The word “shade” is used 40 times in the final draft, and every design element is carefully executed to alleviate heat gain and create cool comfort zones.
The Valley Metro Rail uses greenscreen panels in conjunction with tensile shade cloths and sun louvers at transit platforms to provide a cooler, shaded environment for waiting passengers at the Phoenix stations. Native plant material is nestled between panels at the pedestrian level to help reduce reflected heat from adjacent hardscape areas and also to maintain maximum shade with changing sun angles. The panels are used as a repeating modular element throughout the 28 stations but in a variety of shapes, curves and columns to allow for unique custom applications. The unique design utilized over 30 different panel configurations while still meeting tamper resistance and security requirements. In response to the program requirements, preliminary infrared research showed that the designed shade areas can be up to 30 degrees cooler than hardscaped areas exposed to full sun. The project also included a comprehensive vine and vertical research study, which has been incorporated into the Metro design criteria manual and was awarded a 2006 ASLA Merit Award.
At the award-winning Tempe Transportation Center, custom-colored greenscreen panels and native plants are again used to provide shade, a vertical enclosure and thematic relationship to the adjacent light rail stations. The standard greenscreen panels were spliced together during the manufacturing process to provide a custom application at a very low cost while helping to provide a human scale to the platform structures. In addition to the shading benefit, the incorporation of plant material at this level provides an additional cooling benefit due to evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration occurs when plants take up water through the roots and release it in the form of water vapor through the foliage. The additional moisture given off helps to cool the ambient air and both projects benefit from this evaporative cooling. The shelters are also very intentional in their sustainable design. The gentle butterfly roof harvests rainwater to irrigate the plantings, and benches are designed to provide adequate shade regardless of the sun angle.
A healthy dose of product innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration and integrated project delivery can lead to award-winning healthcare facility design and construction, as is the case with the Camino Medical Group – Mountain View campus. The campus features an urgent care center, outpatient surgery center, pharmacy, laboratory and radiology services, administrative offices and exam rooms for over 100 primary care physicians and specialty physicians. Design programming included the use of intuitive circulation patterns, abundant natural light, warm natural materials and an extensive restorative art program. All of these features are nestled into the Mountain View, California, campus that contains a 250,000-square-foot space that invokes the client’s desire to provide a “supportive, healing place.” The 2007 AIA San Francisco Honor Award winner, designed by Hawley Peterson & Snyder Architects, is modern in its styling but even more advanced in the collaborative approaches that were taken to construct it. That commitment to collaboration also extended to the relationship between structure and landscape.
The visual separation of adjacent parking structures and surface lots can provide significant design challenges when attempting to blend aesthetics with function. The designers for the Camino – Medical Group Mountain View campus relied on product innovation to help solve this challenge by incorporating “living architecture” to frame views, provide an entry statement, control access and help delineate spaces. Designed in collaboration with the SWA Group, two rectangular trellises using greenscreen panels provide a grand entrance transition in and out of surface parking. Held off of 6” steel framing by custom-fabricated mounting clips, the greenscreen panels wrap around the framework and will allow pink jasmine to grow up and over an often-overlooked design opportunity. The “captive growing space” of the panels will allow the fragrant blooms to cascade over a 32 ½” span that also helps to control vehicular access to the lower-level parking structure to less than 8’ 2” tall. Raised masonry planters at the intersection successfully incorporate the trellis and plant material to soften the space and provide a constant design theme that surrounds the surface parking. Over time, the plantings and greenscreen panels will provide a green, fragrant archway in and out of the functional space. The underground parking portion directly below also uses greenscreen panels to provide security, accents and consistent thematic design.
A collaborative theme was the hallmark throughout the entire project as architects and general contractors utilized two then-new implementation systems. Integrated project delivery (IPD) and building information modeling (BIM) technologies, including 3D/4D documentation, design/assist, LEAN design and construction methodologies, led to significant savings in time, materials and the cost of work to the major subtrades. In fact, there were no RFIs or change orders issued due to conflicts with the interfaces of the 3D modeling system.
Creating shade while screening views and allowing for air circulation is a challenge that architects face every day, but these environmental and aesthetic factors are magnified when designing in a desert climate. Studios 5c, located in Tempe, Arizona, is a 21,000-square-foot urban mixed-use building in the Mill Avenue District of Tempe. It includes a ground-floor brewpub with sidewalk patio, offices for an architectural firm and a series of executive suites that cater to design professionals. Designed by RSP Architects, this building employs strong massing and honest expression of materials to harmonize and stand out in its urban context.
Innovative design is used throughout Studios 5c to help solve the environmental considerations that must be accounted for in an urban desert environment. Circulation spaces between offices, as well as vertically, have been placed beyond the structure’s skin in order to minimize the amount of air-conditioned space. On the exterior circulation spaces, shade and screening are created by multistory structural steel components that are infilled with trellis panels that facilitate the growth of climbing vines. The 3,707 square feet of lightweight trellis panels are attached to the steel by a custom slot in the full perimeter trim of the panels that allows for a bolt-through application. A very narrow planting bed of only 14” is enough space for vines that reach to more than 40’ tall, forming a flowering vertical tapestry.
The exterior staircase is cloaked on two sides, shading this volume and creating a cooling tower that is significantly cooler than the outside desert temperatures. The combination of interrupting solar heat gain along with the microclimate created by the evapotranspiration of the plants is very successful in keeping a comfortable temperature range. Infrared photography studies reveal how temperatures of building surfaces collect and radiate heat gain, while shaded areas and plant leaves are considerably cooler. Leaf surface temperatures are at or near the ambient air temperature during evapotranspiration and in some cases are actually 3 to 5 degrees Celsius cooler.
The use of green façade wall technology to provide cooling and shading benefits in a desert environment is rapidly becoming a very cost-effective and practical consideration for arid regions. Since the completion of Studios 5c in 2001, the application of green façade walls to help control heat gain has been expanded to recent projects, including the Valley Metro Rail stations and the Tempe Transportation Center.
The green façade wall project on the 85,000-square-foot Whole Foods flagship store along the Chicago River demonstrates how green façade walls can be a successful plug-in within sustainable design best management practices. By incorporating the component technologies of green façade walls, porous pavements, green roofs and native plants, designers have created an award-winning amenity that also maintains a commitment to clean water through on-site management. All of these elements would play a significant role individually but completed together is where the true regenerative potential of urban design can be explored.
The incorporation of green façade walls increases the hydrologic capacity of the landscape by vertically increasing the amount of rain-interceptive vegetation and helping to control runoff at the foundation of the structure. Water uptake is increased due to additional root mass as well as beneficial cooling from plant evapotranspiration. With the inclusion of a cost-effective green façade component on this project, the ecological benefits of the natural system are extended and the overall functioning of the natural system to meet water engineering requirements is achieved.
Additionally, the biological benefit of the holistic system is increased by the use of green façade technology. The emphasis on the plant palette was extended to the vertical plane to increase the benefits of shelter, food source, pollination and habitat reconstruction. The landscape architects at Wolf Landscape Architecture implemented the use of green façade walls as the long-term solution to providing a biological corridor that interfaces with architecture and the landscape.
The site design goal was to discover the relationships that are critical to the functioning of natural systems, both human and natural, in an urban environment and to express visually through nature the connectivity and importance of water management to the survival of both. The realized goal was that through a systems-approach design, adjacent and existing natural systems like the Chicago River can be embraced to provide the ultimate goals of protection and public access.
What once was an abandoned industrial site and surface parking has been transformed into an 85,000-square-foot LEED®-certified urban renewal driver that has established a new segment of the Chicago River trail. As a testament to the success of the project, the Whole Foods project received a 2014 Award of Excellence in the Exterior Green Wall category from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), and the Friends of the Chicago River awarded the project a first-ever Silver Ribbon Award in recognition of those who strive for the ideal in sustainable design for humans (public access), water (hydrology) and wildlife (ecology).
Built on top of a hill in Universal City, California, Universal CityWalk is a 23-acre, 200,000-square-foot pedestrian visitor experience for the studio tour, cinemas and amphitheater. Designed as a high-tech facsimile of Los Angeles city streets, the award-winning CityWalk continues to draw 25,000 people daily 20 years after the unveiling.
In 1988, MCA/Universal hired Jon Jerde and the Jerde Partnership to formulate a master plan for all of Universal City, which included the $100 million outdoor mall spine that would tie everything together, including future elements (Universal CityWalk underwent a $1 billion expansion in 2000). Jon Jerde, recommended by Dean Richard Weinstein of UCLA’s architecture school, was responsible for the successful revisioning of San Diego’s Horton Plaza that included a nostalgic pop culture mix of neon, billboards and architectural styles. Many of those successful elements were introduced in CityWalk as a distillation of the unique architecture of Los Angeles, with each element having its own separate language and role in the larger composition. Over that architectural base, multiple layers of signage, landscaping and graphics were used to create a rich texture that makes CityWalk’s design unique.
One big difference was the concept of project architect Richard Orne to design a central atrium space that created the illusion of an “inhabited bush.” Orne’s concept required the use of vegetation on the walls of the atrium space that featured a 170’ radial trellis designed and built by Pearce Structures. The project architect was also aware that plant material attached to the building façade could be problematic, so Orne enlisted the help of Emmet Wemple, an architect/landscape architect and founder of the iconic Southern California firm Emmet L. Wemple & Associates. Wemple realized that in order to complete the concept, the team needed to find a product that could act as a trellising system in which plant material could climb instead of being attached to the wall.
During the research phase, the team discovered a three-dimensional welded wire product that was used as a structural, lightweight, insulated building component for visual display and for mine shaft reinforcement. The product met all of the engineering requirements for adoption as a trellis system, and a clip attachment was designed to hold the panels off of the walls. Wemple & Associates continued with the landscape plan that included multiple types of climbing vines inside the atrium space and trumpet vine with bougainvillea at additional locations outside of the central atrium space.
With refinements and adaptations, the greenscreen trellis system product line was launched in 1994 and is still providing the same proof of concept that it was intended for at Universal CityWalk. Since the initial installation at CityWalk, greenscreen panels have been installed at over 10,000 additional projects worldwide.
The holistic blending of architecture, landscape and the site is a common goal of designers. This was especially the case for the design team from HOK, which was challenged with the national headquarters of the National Wildlife Federation. With a client that places climate change, the loss of habitat and people’s increasing disconnection from nature as top priorities, the design program statement needed to address these challenges but also be able to incorporate them into visible teachable opportunities and examples of successful design. The successful result is a building that blends seamlessly into its context and embraces the landscape instead of dominating it.
The reason for the success is based upon the conscious holistic approach taken to blend architecture and landscape. The building is a LEED®-certified building, a 2002 AIA/COTE Top Ten Award winner and is an ENERGY STAR® partner, but the environmental benefits blend seamlessly once outside the door thresholds. The landscape is a tapestry of native plant materials that extend to the vertical plane through the use of greenscreen panels. Native vines grown on greenscreen help to shade and cool the southern elevation of the headquarters in the summer, while the deciduous vines drop their leaves in the fall and the interior office space benefits throughout the colder months through passive solar warming. Energy modeling confirmed that this deciduous sunscreen is more effective at improving energy performance than more expensive design options that rely on fixed architectural sunscreens.
The panels are mounted to a structural steel frame that is held 4′ off the face of the building and are mostly standard-size panels to help maximize use of materials and minimize costs. The vertical landscape is then anchored by native plantings that are part of the site stormwater management system that extends across the entire front façade. The designers have taken landscape elements that are typically relegated to unaesthetic engineered solutions and have successfully integrated them into an amenity that becomes the welcome mat to the front door. The seasonal aspects of this holistic approach actually make the structure “change” with the seasons and give the building a living quality.
In early 2000, Ford Motor Company announced that it was constructing a 300,000-square-foot Class A facility and moving its Premier Automotive Group (PAG) headquarters to Irvine, California. The new facility, named One Premier Place, would include a 181,000-square-foot office tower, 90,000-square-foot product development wing, conference center, vehicle display area, fitness center and cafeteria. The facility would also be the first completed LEED-NC project in the U.S. and includes the following:
One Premier Place was completed in 2001 at a cost of $68 million and today is considered one of the largest green façade wall installations ever undertaken. The project consists of 16,241 square feet of greenscreen trellis panels in three specific applications.
A 24’ tall freestanding installation surrounds a storage area of the product development wing and connects the green roof with at-grade planting beds. Fully vegetated panels effectively screen the storage area from an adjacent access road and provide an attractive buffer in a narrow planting strip.
An additional installation extends 300 feet across an entire elevation, effectively screening surface vehicular circulation from the cafeteria area, ground floor and second-story offices. This freestanding application reaches 20’ tall and also provides a secure area for on-site daycare operations.
A third installation is incorporated into a wall-mounted, steel support structure attached to a four-story parking facility. The 24’ tall stacked panels tone down the monolithic architecture of typical parking structures and provide a vertical “green ribbon” visual aesthetic that thematically ties the building programming to the landscape.
By incorporating green façade wall technology into the project scope, designers were able to achieve additional LEED® credits, contribute to the energy efficiency of the building envelope and extend the landscape programming to the vertical plane.
Project Update: In 2010, after selling off the Aston Martin, Land Rover and Jaguar brands, the Ford Motor Company leased the 181,000-square-foot office tower to Yum! Brands, Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky, and the space is now home to the corporate headquarters of Taco Bell.
Having Disneyland® as a neighbor might be intimidating for a typical lifestyle retail complex, but Anaheim GardenWalk is anything but your typical outdoor mall. The development client needed a thematic design that would rival the surrounding context of the three Disney gates and ensure the long-term success of the retail spaces.
The design program is based upon the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, and it is successfully executed in the Mediterranean environment of Southern California. The advantage of having Disneyland as your neighbor is obviously proximity, and it was important for programming to provide a continuity of experience from one destination to the next since GardenWalk would form a major pedestrian link.
Providing thematic design and continuity for the 580,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space presented the unique challenge of blending multiple uses and scale as visitors progress from inviting grand entrances through to intimate boutique spaces. With over 80 various clients, including retail, restaurant and entertainment space, greenscreen provides a continuous, identifiable design element for the 2010 ICSC Gold MAXI award-winning project.
greenscreen is also utilized on the attached parking structure that includes parking space for 4,800 vehicles. The 30-acre site will eventually consist of the retail space, over one million square feet of parking, 387 timeshares and three themed hotels. Disney has announced plans to open an adjoining third Disneyland-themed resort that will be based around a water park theme, and additional plans include the extension of the monorail to service the adjoining properties. The design flexibility of greenscreen products allows for a variety of applications that provide design solutions for the challenges that are typical of a mixed-use complex.
Sustainability is front and center in the construction and opening of the District 9 headquarters on historic Central Avenue, just south of Downtown Los Angeles. South Central Los Angeles is an urban redevelopment zone that is embracing its historic jazz heritage and moving forward with an aggressive streetscape program. Former District 9 Councilwoman Jan Perry has been a proponent of implementing sustainability initiatives and is widely credited with implementing the Augustus Hawkins Wetland, which is the nation’s first human-made wetland in a highly urban area and is part of Augustus Hawkins Park.
The $10 million project provides forward-looking environmental features that enhance building performance, demonstrate urban development innovations to the public and form a context for expressing design compositions that echo the community’s jazz history. The architectural programming includes 10,000 square feet featuring two major interior functions: administrative field offices for both the council and various city departments serving the neighborhood and a community meeting room.
A landscaped entrance court occurs beneath eight raised photovoltaic arrays that move during the day to track the sun, shade the space below and signal a dynamic environmental message to the public. To further announce its environmental significance, the design establishes a grid of trees and paving pattern extending throughout the site to give a park-like feeling to the project. greenscreen panels frame the front façade of the offices that pay tribute to the façade treatments of historic “taxpayer unit” developments along Central Avenue. Clerestory windows provide natural lighting to the interior while minimizing security concerns for building openings. The design also features a roof garden serving the environmental and social needs of the community. The project has achieved a USGBC LEED® Silver rating.
The use of greenscreen in an urban setting provides attractive, cost-effective perimeter security due to its 2” x 2” grid. To provide design continuity and increased security, greenscreen panels are infilled into the entry and parking lot gating. The design flexibility of greenscreen allows for a variety of applications that provide design solutions for the challenges that are typical of an urban municipal-use building.
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