Prince George's County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS), which serves over 900,000 residents of the Baltimore Maryland/Washington D.C. corridor, recently undertook a major remodeling project at their Largo-Kettering Branch. The project involved gutting and renovating 25,000 square feet of space to house PGCMLS's administrative offices and various support functions at a single location. Separate suites were planned for each function with shared reception, conference, and training facilities.
As part of the interior design for the new reception area, PGCMLS asked their architects, Gant Brunnett (GBA), to incorporate a unique, artistic statement into the space ... a natural, living wall. Manufactured by GSky Plant Systems, Inc., the living wall is comprised of three modular cabinets, 7' 4" high, with a total width of approximately 10' 4". The three modules accommodate 330 plants in 4-1/4" pots, which include Dwarf Janet Craig, Rex Begonia, Brazil Philodendron, and bromeliad species. The plants are placed in the cabinets using a series of trays that hold the pots in position. Water tanks and a battery-powered irrigation system are built-in to the cabinets, helping create a self-sustaining environment requiring minimal maintenance.
When placed in the cabinets, the plants blend together to form a lush, continuous "living wall." The concept excited PGCMLS because it completely transforms an interior space, bringing the outdoors inside, and creating a fresh, natural ambiance. For the reception area wall, the plants were arranged in dramatic, sweeping wave patterns, resulting in a stunning piece of living art that not only makes a bold visual statement, but also helps raise the environmental consciousness of employees and visitors.
In order to assure that the living wall would thrive in the absence of natural sunlight, very specific lighting requirements had to be met. GBA and the living wall supplier, Ambius, turned to Juno Lighting Group for just the right luminaires for the project. The critical specifications included: color temperatures between 4000K and 4300K; 125 foot-candles minimum; illuminated 10-12 consecutive hours per day; and light directed at a 30-45 degree angle to the plants. Furthermore, the light had to be evenly distributed across the plant surfaces with the fixtures not more than four feet above the cabinet tops and three to four feet from the vertical wall.
It was determined that Indy™-brand, Designer Cove™ multi-head fixtures from Juno Lighting Group would be perfect for the assignment. They feature three luminaires in each fixture, and with 360-degrees of rotation and 35-degrees of tilt, offering all the adjustability required to thoroughly bathe the plants in light from top-to-bottom and side-to-side. MR-16, 39W ceramic metal halide (CMH) lamps with spot optics were selected due to the suitability of their light output, light quality, and color temperature. Four recessed fixture housings featured white trim flanges that fit flush into the suspended ceiling, and the low-profile design of the luminaire heads and yoke assembly yielded an unobtrusive installation that did not distract in any way from the spectacular appearance of the living wall.
To complete the lighting installation, all four fixtures were wired to a junction box on the adjacent wall, and a timer was installed to operate the lighting. The timer was programmed to switch the lights on for the prescribed number of hours per day and to function whether the library was open or closed. The CMH lamps are considerably more energy efficient than equivalent halogen and last about 6-times longer.
With the living wall framed into a natural, rustic slate-tile surround, the reception area makes a stunning impression. It brings a breath of fresh air into a space that might otherwise have been stale and ordinary, bringing a smile and a sense of calm to everyone who sees it.
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