by Brianna Crandall — April 28, 2017 — As part of its five-year building modernization project, Philadelphia’s 1901 Market Street, corporate headquarters for Independence Blue Cross (IBC), selected green walls from Plant Connection to add life and beauty to its outdoor plaza and provide a visual statement of the company’s commitment to sustainability.
The complete building modernization included the overhaul of the 1987 building’s lobby, full-floor cafeteria, all 45 office floors, and the Market Street frontage expansion at the ground floor. This renovation was awarded with two TOBY (The Outstanding Building of the Year) Awards from BOMA Philadelphia (Building Owners and Managers Association). BOMA’s TOBY awards recognize quality in buildings and reward excellence in building management; buildings are judged on everything from community involvement and site management to environmental and green policies and procedures.
Aside from the site’s interior renovations, IBC also gave its outdoor plaza space a “green face-lift,” installing two exterior 18-feet-tall living walls as visual evidence of its green branding. The previous space was segmented and masked, plants had outgrown their space, and the plaza terminated at a tiered concrete wall of weeds that loomed over seating areas, notes Plant Connection.
Now, 1901 Market Street is wide open, with welcoming views to lush living walls. New paving, complete with IBC’s inlaid logo medallion and recessed LED lighting, runs throughout and visually connects the buildings overlooking the space. Ample seating and modular parallelogram-shaped wooden benches allow office workers to find respite.
Adding a “wow factor” for workers and visitors alike, the two green walls span a total of 32 feet and provide a splendid visual contrast to the richly colored Trespa panel accent wall that surrounds it. Serpentine tiered seating extends from the wall and allows visitors to appreciate the living wall plantings up close. Additional plantings below the Trespa panels help soften the transition between materials. The living walls are segmented by recessed LED lighting that aligns with the curvilinear design of overlapping arcs.
Since the plaza is surrounded by tall buildings that cast shadows and bounce light, a planting palette suitable for shade was chosen with seasonal interest. Various evergreen species like winter creeper, which develops a crimson hue in fall/winter, were incorporated, while chartreuse coral bells and carpets of starry pink phlox offer spring and summer color.
Building occupants now have verdant views to the living walls below, and plaza visitors can take a refreshing break outside in an inviting space. Environments with more natural light, as well as different vistas, colors and patterns, all of which IBC lends, can help nurture creativity, improve moods and enhance the ability to focus — all adding to the attraction of this renovated office environment.