The Award-Winning Green Oasis in the Heart of Columbus: The Huntington Center Plant Wall

Columbus Underground

As one of Columbus’ iconic skyscrapers, The Huntington Center, 41 S. High St., has helped define the Columbus skyline since its construction and opening in 1985. What many in Columbus might not know is that with its glass and red granite façade, brass fixtures, and modern amenities, the Huntington Center was viewed as a beacon of modern architecture. Fast forward 40 years and the Huntington Center is now being heralded for incorporating groundbreaking biophilic design into the property. To help build a sense of place for tenants and visitors, the management team of the Huntington Center brought nature into their space in awe-inspiring fashion.

In 2019, the Huntington Center saw the addition of a two-story living plant wall that serves as a striking visual infusion of nature, but also contributes to the overall well-being of the individuals who work and visit this remarkable space. Rising from street level off High Street and flanking a trio of escalators leading to the reception desk in the main lobby, the wall is comprised of two, separate free-standing walls totaling 2,500 square feet and comprised of over 8,500 individual plants. The walls are built on steel frames and are hollow, allowing for the service of plants from inside the wall. The wall is the largest of its kind in North America, completely transforming the open atrium into a tropical oasis.

The first of their kind, the walls were designed by a team championed by Hines general property manager Tyler Steele, (the Huntington Center is managed by global real estate and property management company, Hines), architecture firm Design Collective, and SuitePlants/Mobilane, the distributor and manufacturer of the wall materials. Their goal was to enliven and soften the large, open atrium, and to create a powerful, experiential moment for the tenants and guests coming into the building.

The wall holds 350 gallons of water, moved through a 24-zone irrigation system. (Your average residential irrigation system is comprised of six to nine zones.) Foam cartridges held in frames contain over a dozen varieties of individually planted plants, selected for growth habits, moisture and temperature tolerance, and visual interest. Inset into each of the two outer walls are a set of fabric-lined banquettes with soft cushions and electrical outlets, designed to invite building tenants to meet and connect. Free-standing plants are also included throughout the main lobby, the Hines offices, and the 36th floor Horizon Suite—a rooftop amenity space for tenants. The innovative incorporation of plants into the Huntington Center reflects a holistic and forward-thinking approach to commercial office design, recognizing the importance of both nature and relaxation in fostering a positive work environment.

Last month, the Huntington Plant Wall was recognized at the International Plantscape Awards in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Columbus’ biophilic design firm Oakland Green Interiors took over care and maintenance of the wall in 2019 and their work to refresh and update the wall was acknowledged with a Gold Award by the awards committee. The award marks a significant moment for Columbus as it is recognition of the city as a creative pioneer in integrating nature into our built environments. As a living, breathing (it literally produces oxygen!) work of art, it’s a one-of-a-kind solution to the question of how we make our workspaces inviting and invigorating. Want to see it in person and soak in some biophilic bliss? The Huntington Center is open to the public during normal business hours during weekdays.

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