The Living Wall

Why a Living Wall?

In 2014, the City has launched an initiative called “Nature in the City” to ensure every citizen has access to nature close to where we live and work. The focus is on how our built environment can contribute to our sense of nature within the city. One of the deliverables of the project will be design guidelines. The guidelines will show how to successfully implement various techniques designed to enhance access to nature in an urban environment. However, many approaches have not been attempted in our region or climate.

One such approach is a living wall. Living walls provide a variety of benefits and represent a pilot project that can be designed and installed concurrent with the design guidelines. The project will be a high profile case study on the feasibility and creation of green walls in arid climates. The wall will be designed to demonstrate what plants work best in a vertical setting, how habitat can be enhanced through a green wall, and what energy savings can be achieved.

Benefits of a Living Wall

Green walls provide a wide variety of benefits: they improve both indoor and outdoor air quality, they provide the building insulation from heat and cold while protecting the wall from water and sunlight and help to lower summer temperatures in cities by reducing the urban heat island effect. Green walls add vegetation to the urban environment and provide habitat for urban species. Studies have shown that viewing and interacting with greenery reduces stress and mental fatigue, while improving feelings of neighborhood safety and overall wellbeing.

What Is a Living Wall?

A living wall, also known as a green wall, is a wall partially or completed covered with plants. It includes a structural system and soil media that supports the plants and there is typically a 2-4” separation between the living wall and the building wall for structural purposes.

Project Schedule

The living wall will be designed and constructed in 2014-15 on the following schedule:

  • Idea Generation: In May 2014, City staff worked with the Urban Lab and the CSU Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture to generate ideas for the living wall.
  • Conceptual Design: During 2015 we have finalized site location and developed conceptual designs.
  • Construction is planned for June 2016 at the new Utilities Administration Building on the corner of Howes St. and Laporte Ave.
  • Maintenance and Monitoring: Maintenance and Monitoring will be conducted by the City’s Parks Department in collaboration with CSU’s Institute for the Built Environment and the Urban Lab.

What Is The Proposed Design?

Lead Designer Jessica Doig, a graduate of the CSU Landscape Architecture program, and Colin Day, Project Manager, The Institute for the Built Environment, have prepared potential conceptual designs. The proposed wall will be approximately 200 square feet combined. The hypothetical design illustration would be modified for site specificity.


The form of this design is inspired by ripples. A ripple is the beginning of a change to the surface, a billow of form that radiates outward. This form is a reflection of the living wall itself. The living wall is a small piece that is a part of the beginning of something new. It is a form that twill create a ripple along the Mason St. corridor. The piece’s metal work is about moving beyond the planting wall and showing the swell of the living wall extending beyond itself. The wall will serve to reach out to the community and become a piece of interest.

  1. to flow with a light rise and fall or ruffling of the surface.
  2. a small wave or series of waves on the surface of water, especially as caused by an object dropping into it or a slight breeze


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