May 20, 2020
At this Office Building in Oakland, the Walls Are Alive
In the Bay Area city, local company Habitat Horticulture installed a rich, tapestry-like living wall titled Urban Ecotones.
Living walls are often designed with plants in tranquil shades of green, the better to mimic a soothing natural landscape. However, California company Habitat Horticulture had a different mandate for the lobby of a new office building in downtown Oakland, California. “The piece needed to stand alone as a work of art—it needed to captivate people the moment they turned the corner,” says Habitat founder and principal David Brenner.
Titled Urban Ecotones, the tapestry-size piece draws an analogy between the intermingling of plant communities in transition areas called ecotones and the way diverse communities come together in Oakland. The striking display ties together 26 kinds of flora, from rosy-leafed coral bells to Molten Lava oxalis. While tenants are sure to enjoy the amenity, the public and the building’s developer, Shorenstein, are also reaping benefits. Shorenstein received financial credit for installing Urban Ecotones as a public artwork, making it the first living wall to earn that designation in the United States.
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