Blanc is Considered by Most to be the Father of the Living Wall

A Picture of Patrick Blanc and I together.

By Joe Zazzera, GRP, LEED AP ID+C| February 15, 2011 | topics: Patrick Blanc, Father of the Living, Living Walls, Vertical Walls

French botanist Patrick (PahTreek) Blanc is considered by most to be the father of the living vertical walls (although McRae Anderson built the Cleveland Zoo living wall around the same time). As early as 1988, he was designing living walls as art. In the early days, his designs were less about the environment and more about creating living artwork using a huge plant palette.

More About Some of the Living Wall Contributions Made by Patrick Blanc

A living wall piece that could have been
inspired by some of Blanc’s work.

It’s challenging to mention living green walls without talking about the contributions Patrick Blanc has made to what they have transformed into today. He has definitely shaped the vertical garden and used it to add life and green hues to otherwise dull grey cityscapes around the world. Once his work was recognized nationally, he began working in all kinds of non-traditional locations. Some of the types of places you can find Patrick Blanc’s artwork are listed here:

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  • Museums
  • Public Buildings
  • Apartment complexes
  • Commercial complexes
  • Stores
  • Restaurants
  • And more

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These living installations were spread all around the world. Some can be found in Hong Kong, Madrid, New York, Sydney, and many other places too.

The Meaning Behind His Work

Blanc creates these living sculptures because he feels that when people are in the presence of a green wall that they will be moved deeply by nature itself. His work is based on the concept that people need to be with nature in some way every day. This is so that the plants can help nurture or sooth the part of our souls that get beat down from the constant mundane indoor lives that we lead.

“I got to spend about 20 minutes with Patrick Blanc discussing the 230 plus native species, watering systems, smart controllers, fertigators and his thoughts on recycled PVC.”

It Takes More Than an Artists Eye for This Beauty

It is essential that as spectators, we remember that Blanc is a botanist. He knows about plants and their needs. With his knowledge of horticulture services, he carefully studies his designs to ensure that the species he uses will be able to not only look beautiful together but that they will be sustainable in one setting.A significant part of Blanc’s art is his knowledge and use of technology to maintain the plants that he utilizes. He employs special materials to ensure that the plants can receive the water and fertilizers that they need to survive and keep thriving.

My Chance Meeting with the Father of the Living Wall

An example of similar living walls that can
be installed by Plant Solutions.

Last weekend my wife Karen and I had the opportunity to spend some time in San Francisco. Having completed a job in San Jose earlier in the week, we were looking forward to some overdue R&R together. Because living walls are always on my radar, I knew that Patrick Blanc had a new design being installed at the Drew School in Pacific Heights. I made a note to attempt to see its progress sometime over the weekend.

When we arrived at the school, I proceeded with my normal living wall designer routine, taking photos from all angles, inspection of plant material, water systems, and installation techniques. When I stepped across the street to take a few distance shots, I met the Drew school facility manager. I introduced myself and engaged in conversation about the wall and his part in the design, installation, and construction. He was surprised that I knew so much about Patrick Blanc. Suddenly he said, “well, you know, Patrick is giving a lecture to the student body right now”? I said, “excuse me?” “Oh yes, he said, in fact, if you would like to wait, I would be happy to introduce you to him”……

What are the odds? What timing…I got to spend about 20 minutes with Patrick Blanc discussing the 230 plus native species, watering systems, smart controllers, fertigators, and his thoughts on recycled PVC. Luckily, his English was far better than my French. Click here to view the gallery.

Resources and References