Green Walls Enliven Exterior

LiveWall system greens the outside of the Golden 1 Center.

As fans approach Golden 1 Center, home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, they see living symbols of the Kings’ commitment to sustainability through the use of live walls.

As fans approach Golden 1 Center, home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, they see living symbols of the Kings’ commitment to sustainability through the use of live walls.

As fans approach Golden 1 Center, home of the NBA’s Sacramento (CA) Kings, they see living symbols of the Kings’ commitment to sustainability: seven green walls totaling 4,800 sq. ft. and featuring 5,400 plants.

“The inspired idea was to make the building look as if it rests on the green wall, rooting the arena in the landscape and extending the landscape from the new plaza up to the walls of the arena itself,” said James Haig Streeter, landscape design lead, AECOM, Los Angeles. The arena “appears to emerge from the landscape, and visitors see vibrant bands of green that change with different sections displaying different plants based on the varying patterns of sun and shade around the building,” he said.

The design and materials of the building’s façade evoke the granite and grandeur of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The green walls are positioned beneath Golden 1 Center’s distinctive reflective aluminum panels, which are etched with 3-in. modernist leaf designs based on photographs of a leafy street in East Sacramento. The “Million Trees” panels with hundreds of thousands of leaves convey the sense of billowing valley oak tree canopies on the arena’s exterior. Depending on the time of day and position of the sun, the shadows on the leaves look different, and in combination with the building’s ceramic frit glass, the arena takes on different colors of silver and gold tones. As integrated elements, the glass, metal panels, green walls at the base of the building, and the landscape of the surrounding plaza (including a walnut grove) make the facility come alive.

On the south side of L Street, the plaza is above street level, and there is a retail area along that section of the street at the base of the building. The plant mixes on those walls emphasize ferns and grasses.

On the south side of L Street, the plaza is above street level, and there is a retail area along that section of the street at the base of the building. The plant mixes on those walls emphasize ferns and grasses.

Green Wall Solution

In evaluating green wall system options for the project, AECOM considered several critical success factors. “We wanted a proven, tried-and-true system with well-engineered components that could scale up,” said Haig Streeter. “It was important for the green wall design to provide adequate soil depth and volume to protect the plants and keep the walls from drying out in the heat of summer.

“The LiveWall, Nuncia, MI, planter modules are designed and look like window boxes. That makes it a system with features and functions the owners of the team could understand,” he said. “For future maintenance, no system could be easier because you can switch out the module liner inserts with different plants.”

The Sacramento office of BrightView, a landscape-services company, installed the green walls. The installation includes 2,700 LiveWall planter modules. They attach to a unique aluminum rail and mounting track system, which is affixed to the structural wall and secures the planters and integrated irrigation components.

In order to create an authentic vertical landscape, plant species that are native to the area, or which have aesthetic qualities similar to native plants, were chosen.

In order to create an authentic vertical landscape, plant species that are native to the area, or which have aesthetic qualities similar to native plants, were chosen.

Plant Selection

For commercial and public applications, landscape architects prefer green walls that are pre-grown. Florasource Ltd, San Clemente, CA, an independent horticulture supply company and LiveWall distributor, provided 5,400 plants in the planter inserts so that the plants would be hearty and ready for installation into the modular planters in September 2016.

AECOM and Florasource selected 18 different plant varieties. In order to create an authentic vertical landscape, they chose plant species native to the area, or which have aesthetic qualities similar to native plants. To minimize supplemental irrigation requirements, all the plants are appropriate for the climate. When mature, many of the selected species will grow large enough to cover much of the green wall components. The exact plant mixes for individual green wall sections account for variations in prevailing patterns of sun and shade around the arena.

Shade is valued, prized, and beneficial in Sacramento because of the climate. The north side of the building is shaded. That section of green wall has shade tolerant plants, and that part of the plaza features honey locust trees for shade and shade-loving plants at grade. The plant palette for the green wall thus complements the plantings in the landscape to take advantage of the shade and increase the amount of shade, and the horizontal and vertical landscape elements harmonize.

On the west side, the foothills terrace area of the plaza is full sun. The green wall there is planted with aromatic spices, including sage and rosemary. The plants create an appealing aromatic sense around and within the space. On the south side of L Street, the plaza is above street level, and there is a retail area along that section of the street at the base of the building, another way to connect the arena and enliven it at street level. The plant mixes on those walls emphasize ferns and grasses.

“Sacramento is full of wonderful green spaces, and our three-acre public plaza that wraps the arena had to be one of them,” said Chris Granger, president of the Kings.

It is all coming together at Golden 1 Center. The tree canopies and plants are filling in. The green walls bring the landscape up from the plaza to the arena, and the green wall plants in the context of the Million Tree panel design make the arena come alive in unity with its surroundings.


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