Case Study: Retail Embracing Green Space –Starbucks Downtown Disney

G A R D E N S, Garden Stores, Garden Structure, Garden Tours, gardening, Gardens, Green wall, Greenroofs, Inspiration, Landscape, Landscape Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In early November, I traveled down to Orlando for the APLD 2014 International Design Conference (working on a recap post). On my last day I killed time walking around Downtown Disney before my flight home. The area is going through a phased redesign to become Disney Springs with completion in 2016. One of the new spaces already opened included Starbucks. The Starbucks owned store opened in June and is LEED certified like the previously opened store in Downtown Disney Anaheim. Apart of the LEED certification, the store features reclaimed materials, but of more interest to me is the green roof installed by Metro Verde.

Case Study: Retail Embracing Green Space –Starbucks Downtown Disney, Thinking Outside the Boxwood  Case Study: Retail Embracing Green Space –Starbucks Downtown Disney, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

This implementation is interesting because it features a retail company embracing green roofs on the individual store location level. The store’s green roof is 1,800 square feet, the roof is at most a tenth of the size to the other recent green roofs installed by retail giants like Walmart (40,600 sq feet in 2013) and Whole Foods (17,000 sq feet in 2013). The installation shows a commitment to the impact small scale incorporation of green spaces can have on the customers.

Case Study: Retail Embracing Green Space –Starbucks Downtown Disney, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Even though customers cannot directly interact with the roof plantings, the grasses can be viewed from the ground and are a part of the full sensory experience. The roof also features LED lighting, which allows the plantings to be visible both day and night.  Metro Verde calculated the green roof produces enough oxygen per day for 4 people, not a huge impact environmental. However thinking about the swells of visitors the store will receive and exposure to plants used as key element of design, not after thought is pretty cool for a plant geek like myself.

Case Study: Retail Embracing Green Space –Starbucks Downtown Disney, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Grasses Used:

  • Dwarf Fakahatchee, Tripscaum floridnum
  • Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus


Another interesting part of the Starbucks green roof story is the use of their own coffee grounds in the soil medium at both the nursery growing the grasses and in the continued care of the plants. This story was apart of Starbucks’ press release and marketing within the store. It makes me smile because of all the bags of used coffee grounds (Grounds for Your Garden) I have carted from our Starbucks and place the garden beds at home.

Case Study: Retail Embracing Green Space –Starbucks Downtown Disney, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Right next to the Starbucks was another key plant area, a reincarnation of New York City’s High Line. Without knowing anything about this project, the finished area completely evoked the feeling of the High Line. Once fully completed the area will be home to food trucks, seating and great vista viewing. Over all it will be interesting to watch as Disney and all the partners help transform the new Disney Springs area.

Case Study: Retail Embracing Green Space –Starbucks Downtown Disney, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Here are some great Links on the Project for more details:

  • (Background on the project with vendors, project details, etc)
  • (website devoted to this specific project with great background)
  • (press release and additional photos on the project)



If you want to read more about implementing a green roof at home check out:

Small Green Roofs: Low-Tech Options for Greener Living

By Nigel Dunnett, Dusty Gedge, John Little and Edmund C. Snodgrass


Living Walls of Charlotte, NC

G A R D E N S, Green wall, Landscape Design

Early September we had our family vacation in Hilton Head, SC. Our drive from Ohio takes us through Charlotte, NC.  Previous years we have planned our lunch stop in Charlotte at Price’s Chicken Coop and a leg stretch at Capital to see their green wall by Patrick Blanc.  This year we have a ten month old, so decided to stay over night to break up the drive home and explore more of the city.  In the research of what to see in Charlotte I was surprised to find three living walls in addition to the one at Capitol, a high end boutique.  The living walls are spread across industries – small business, corporation/retail, non-for-profit and education.  It is great to see how a city is embracing living walls, and it inspires me to make Columbus the home to multiple living walls, but would be happy to start at one.


Green wall from Capitol taken in 2011.

The green wall in Capital was designed by Patrick Blanc, who is the foremost leader in green wall designs. Laura Vinroot Poole , owner of Capital, and her architect husband requested the wall design by Blanc after meeting him at a party and being familiar with his work at the Pershing Hall Hotel in Paris in 2008.  Blanc also designed a green wall for the Foundation for the Carolinas, which features nearly 1,500 plants and 153 different species in 2011. Unfortunately we were in Charlotte on Saturday and the center was not open for us to request a view. Our photo is from the website of the Foundation.

The rooftop living wall at the Foundation for the Carolinas, via Patrick Blanc's Website


We also visited a green wall inside the local Whole Foods, which opened in 2012. What was interesting about this wall was how it was installed. Individual pots of plants were inserted inside a vertical system. There was a drip line irrigation to maintain, however this system allows for easy replacement of troubled plants. Here is a video of the store opening.



The final green wall we visited was at Queens University. I had a photo of this green wall on my inspiration board, but was not aware it was in Charlotte until we visited the campus. The 735 square-foot design features a double helix, a nod to its home on the Rodgers Science and Health Building.  The Design was by Ambius and was completed early 2013, who also did the green wall inside Longwood Gardens.

Queen's University Living Wall CharlotteLiving wall or Green wall at Queen's University Charlotte, NC

If you are staying in Charlotte, stay at the Ritz Charlton where you can add a tour of their green roof and seasonally home to a colony of bees to round out your living wall/roof tour of Charlotte.





Ivy Covered – Yes or No?

Boston Ivy, Green wall
I am a fan of ivy covered walls and homes. I think they can cover sins and provide some green in really tight spaces. However growing ivy comes with some responsibility in maintaining and ensuring you have selected the right species for your need. 
First, if growing on a structure NEVER plant English Ivy, choose Boston Ivy. This will insure that the suckers or rootlets attached to the surface will not do any harm. Boston Ivy suckers can be removed with a good power washing, while English Ivy will bore into your brick/stucco/wood siding. In certain zones can also use Creeping Fig (see photo below) or other climbers in place of ivy. 
Here is some ivy growing at a client’s house. You can see from the bottom left corner were the plant starts and how far it spreads across the building.
This is and example of Creeping Fig. You can see it provides the same feeling of framing the doorway. 
This is a building I saw on Melrose in LA a few years ago.

Here is the ivy on the back of  my house taken a years ago in early summer. Since our house is covered in stucco in the back,  I used the ivy to provide some more green to the space. We have since moved our dinning room table to that section so it feels like you are dinning surrounded by a green curtain. 
You can see how this ivy has started growing up the wall and then will begin to spread out. 
Ivy can grow very quickly. I took a few weeks off from trimming at our house and the ivy started covering the windows and growing into the screens. On our one story ranch the trimming is easy to access with bi weekly clean ups (it is kind of my decompression therapy), but on a two story home would be more difficult. 
You are a slave to the ivy, two weeks off of trimming and you can have ivy growing into your windows.
Image from prettythings.tumbler  

This building includes a wire gird to support the ivy.
Image from Design Sponge. 

I love how this one building in a row of townhouses is covered in Ivy. Imagine trimming the ivy on the fourth story!
Image from Apartment Therapy.