Whole Foods, Austin
Located just blocks from where Whole Foods Market began as a small neighborhood grocer 30 years ago, Whole Food’s 80,000 square foot flagship store at the corner of Sixth Street and Lamar Boulevard is also one of the company’s largest.
Completed in February of 2008, the store’s indoor double-sided Green Wall suspended from the ceiling is the first thing a customer sees when they enter. Featuring an abstract “wild” design, the wall is 10 ft by 17 ft and weighs in at over 12,000 lbs. A grocery cart escalator runs beneath the wall from the parking lot underneath the building to the store. The Green Wall also hangs beside the Whole Foods eating area where hundreds of people enjoy every day.
The wall's installation was particularly challenging. Hung over 15 feet above the ground, with an ultimate height of 32 feet and weighing in at over 12,000 lbs, the wall's custom aluminum frame had to be structurally engineered to ensure that it would be safe to install. The frame was fabricated and bolted together off-site, stress tested, then disassembled and shipped to the site. Once at the site, the frame was re-assembled above the cart escalators that are directly below the Green Wall running to the parking lot below the building. Two slim scissor lifts were mounted up on the cart escalators, the frame was then put onto the top of the scissor lifts and the frame was raised into place. Using large U-Bolts and thick aircraft cable, the frame was hung from the buildings steel structure frame. Once in place, the wall was mounted to the adjacent walls at the base on both sides. These mountings also served as the conduit for bringing water to the wall and discarding waste water from the wall. A stainless steel gutter was also mounted below the mountings and frame to ensure that no water would splash down onto people walking below and riding the escalators. Once all the mechanical and structural elements were installed and tested, the plants in the panels were installed using a combination of articulating booms and scissor lifts. The entire installation was performed during a 3 day period during the night from 9pm to 5am outside of the stores hours.
The original design (see right -left half, taken February 2008) was installed successfully and required a scissor lift (see left) for maintenance. After a pump failure left the wall without water for several weeks in June 2008, the plants were substituted with more texture and color, creating a more contrasting pattern. The wall has flourished since the pump was repaired (see right - right half, taken April 2009).