Patrick Blanc Living Wall Madrid (
A plugged-in reader returns from Madrid armed with a few photos of a Patrick Blanc “Living Wall” in action. From our reader with respect to the wall designed in conjunction with Herzog and de Meuron’s new CaixaForum near the Prado Museum:

It covers the end of a very mundane apartment building and forms one side of a new plaza that has become a major tourist attraction. It is an extraordinary piece of work and…I think your readers might appreciate the Drew School proposal a bit more if they actually saw what a living wall really looks like.

I am a specialist in Victorian restoration design and I consider the Broderick Street building a mediocre example of the style at best. A Patrick Blanc living wall would certainly add an interesting new element to San Francisco’s expanding modernist scene.

For the record, we couldn’t agree more (vermin habitat or not). Now if only our fair city would actually encourage rather than restrict the modernist scene of which our reader speaks (and we embrace).
Destruction Before Construction: Drew School Expansion [SocketSite]
Drew School Expansion Plans Pass Their Appeals Test(s) [SocketSite]
Drawings For A Proposed Drew School Expansion Along Broderick [SocketSite]
The Drew School Addition Rendering Scoop: Its Living Wall And All [SocketSite]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Delancey

    The greater SF area is blessed with some very attractive native flora adapted to coastal cliffs and canyons that would work very well as a living wall–off the top of my head: artemisia, dwarf manazanita, grasses, dudleya, ferns… just keep the smaller “portable” plants out of reach of passers-by.
    Doesn’t have to be a wall of ivy…

  2. Posted by hugh

    I have to say… I live on that block, and the current Drew building is beautiful, elegant, and understated. I don’t know what was there before, but I really like it. They obviously do care about architecture.
    It always pains me to see the destruction of a Victorian (and almost equally, the facade-ist modernization is existing Victorians… There probably aren’t many left that haven’t been gutted or modernized in some pretty major way.
    But I’m optimistic. The photo here looks so cool. The renderings just looked awful… like bunker boxes covered in ivy.
    One thing, though. I do hope much of the flats being razed go to architectural salvage, rather than landfill…

  3. Posted by Rincon Hill Billy

    FYI, in Paris, there is a wonderful museum of african history that has a similar living wall…but that one has water dripping from it and a lot of exotic plants.
    But I’ll take the SF one closer to home too…

  4. Posted by bob

    The rats!

  5. Posted by Gavin

    I can’t believe how big those plants can grow right off the wall

  6. Posted by Wallshmall

    Still not impressed. You can drive 15 minutes out of SF and be in a real natural environment that is way more impressive and authentic than a wall with some plants on it.
    Victorians are our city’s cultural history. Once you set the precedent that it’s ok to knock one down for this project, where does it stop?

  7. Posted by Paris

    As a neighborhood resident, it’s great to see one of the world’s leading designers/artists/landscapers planting a permanent installation in SF. Blanc’s wall at Pershing Hall in Paris is one of that city’s most brilliant examples of a modernist design and sensibility that fits within the traditional Parisian aesthetic.

  8. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “Still not impressed. You can drive 15 minutes out of SF and be in a real natural environment that is way more impressive and authentic than a wall with some plants on it.”
    Huh? I’m baffled. By that logic we should not allocate any space in the city for plant life. Want to see a tree ? Drive out to Muir woods.

  9. Posted by anonn

    Bummed I missed this when I went to the Prado last month.

  10. Posted by kthnxybe

    Looking at the Broderick street building recently, I realized that, as much as I am into preserving the old and quaint, this one won’t actually be missed. And I love that living wall, that’s cool.
    As for rats, cities have rats. It’s verminific, but it’s a fact of life. They’re probably worse on Clement street than they are near the park where there’s lots of bushes. I don’t think the neighbors will have a sudden rat explosion from this wall. Keep your walls sealed, don’t feed them, and they won’t be as much of a problem.

  11. Posted by lolcat_94123

    lol@”living wall”
    when i was a kid we called that overgrown ivy.

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