Project design objectives
The Objective for the living walls at The Grand in Los Angeles was to create a much softer and more natural appearance to the main entrance of the Conrad by Hilton Hotel. The two walls, each facing in an opposite direction have a similar yet also substantially different plant palette. Due to the orientation of the walls, one of the walls is receiving substantial direct and indirect natural light while the other wall is not receiving any direct and only little indirect natural light. The plant design incorporating different plant depth in a wavy pattern is based on the undulated landscape just east of Los Angeles. The living wall was a critical part to lead up to the LEED Silver certification.
The living wall is located at the front entrance of Hiltons luxury brand hotel, Conrad. With a living wall on both sides the hotel guests wall through a hallway of plants into the hotel. The location of the hotel is right across the street from the iconic Walt Disney Theater in Downtown Los Angeles. The walls are both about 14’ tall and are 40’ and 50’ wide.
The Sempergreen living walls are irrigated with a Sempergreen Plant Care System consisting of a wide variety of sensors to ensure all plants are appropriately and consistently provided with water and nutrients. The plant care system monitors the moisture content in the wall, adjust irrigation schedules accordingly and provides plants with microbursts of nutrients through the irrigation water. The system will be calibrated to a point where its wasting none of the irrigation water and the gutter will be there just for emergencies. All sensor data is being communicated with service technicians and alarm messages will warn the technicians of any inconsistencies giving them the opportunity to resolve an issue before plants are affected by it.
Obstacles and challenges
The biggest challenge on this project was the plant sourcing. This was one of Sempergreen Services their first projects in California and so for the project we needed to find new starting material suppliers with the availability of the appropriate species in the appropriate size for the project that were relatively local to the project. The design team had elected to use a rather specific plant palette based on a rendered aesthetic, a sun/shade study and the objective to use a more native oriented mix of plants. In addition to the new location, the procurement phase of the project fell right in the middle of the COVID pandemic resulting in limited availability.
Fortunately, through the broad network of partner nurseries Sempergreen services works with we were able to source all plants selected by the client.
Plant supply and propagation
Sempergreen Services pre-grows all its own living walls. The starting material, typically 72-cell plugs or 2” pots, is planted into the panels several months before scheduled installation and grown in a vertical setup at a Sempergreen Nursery to ensure plants are well established by the time they are installed on the project. The Grand Living Wall was grown with about 90% of the plants at a partner nursery in Abbotsford BC in Canada and shipped to a nursery near LA to receive its remainder of the plants before it was shipped to the jobsite.