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Friday, October 24, 2014

Will Silver Lake’s Vertical Garden continue to grow?

It has been a little more than two years since Arnaud Ozharun  opened his Silver Lake beauty salon in a cavernous building planted with a vertical garden. An estimated 20,000 seedlings – from succulents to Scotch Moss  – and handfuls of soil were inserted into slits cut into thick fabric attached to the walls of Natural Mind salon, located at the corner of Sunset and Griffith Park boulevards.  “It will look like Amazonia, ” Ozharun said of his vision for a lush vertical garden.  But now, sections of the vertical garden loom more like Arizona than Amazonia, with barren stretches of wall devoid of greenery and tattered piece of fabric and plastic hanging from the building.

The building has been leased to a new tenant, who will decide whether or not to keep and maintain the garden, said building owner Nader Amirpour.  “I am not sure what they are going to do,” said Amirpour, who would not disclose the identity of the new tenant. He told the new tenant: “You maintain it – I am not.”

Amirpour said that many of the prospective tenants interested in the building liked the idea of the vertical garden. But apparently maintaining a vertical garden can take more work and money than expected. “The water is running all day long,” Amipour said. ” Arnaud was complaing about the [water] bill.  It was very high.”  The Eastsider is seeking to contact Ozharun for comment.

Ozharun spent a considerable amount of time to install the vertical garden. The garden grows on about a half-dozen layers of plastic and fabric that supports the plants and protects the exterior walls from moisture. Under the padding are pipes to supply water to the garden. Drains at the base of the building collect the water, which recirculated back into the garden.

Landscaper and designer James Reineck, who installed the garden but was not in charge of maintenance , said he was surprised to hear that the building was up for lease but not so surprised to hear about the expensive of keeping up a vertical garden.

“Most large-scale, vertical gardens usually  have alot of financial backing to keep them looking nice, not low maintenance by any means,” he said in an email. “I’ve got to give credit to the owner for his vision on building the garden. Most business owner only care about financial gain, but he truly wanted to give something nice to his community.”



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37 comments

  1. It’s got more of the landing strip look these days than full coverage…

  2. When the video store left this space and they peeled off the exterior we could see what the building looked like many years ago. It was exciting to see the building return to it’s old self… but then they covered it with this garbage and plants. I say remove this trash and lets see the old building underneath.

  3. More research and this wall might have worked. Xeriscaping When you plant moss on a South facing wall, it will die by August. Arnaud has not been the best neighbor. Next!

  4. I think we have enough beauty salons- any idea what is going in next?

  5. I know! Enough beauty salons, right?!

    Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll put in a much needed coffeehouse! We don’t have any of those in the surrounding areas!

    Or maybe it’ll be another clothing store with understocked and overpriced, shitty wares! There’s like ZERO of those around!

    OMG!!! Maybe it will just be another dirty, shuttered empty building that local kids can tag on and pathetic loser hipsters can use for “pop up” stores on the ocassion when they need something else to do besides wandering aimlessly around the Junction and crying about a business putting up a cinder block wall on a corner they neither own nor do anything to maintain!

    Baaahh, hipster sheep. Baaaaaaaaaaaahhhh.

  6. Yes, he is back, the REAL hipster!

  7. the attempt at covering that building with plants/vines was absolutely pathetic. it never once came close to approaching looking good.

  8. Here come my hipster sheep!

    All bleating and eye rolling in their fedoras and scarves.

    • So I just have to wear a fedora and scarves to be a hipster??

      Please almighty god of Hipster qualifications, do tell all!

  9. I always thought this place looked interesting — the texture sure was different than the surrounding buildings! Too bad it didn’t work, but I think we will all soon learn that large scale vertical gardens are a passing fad that require more water than SoCal can afford. Using recycled water sounds like it could have worked, but I guess it was still expensive. Without soil depth, the plants are practically living off the moisture in the air (none!).

    I’m excited to see how this space evolves.

  10. The salon lasted longer than the year I gave it when it opened. But now it’s gone and the building’s left draped in a vertical mess that the owner’s leaving to the new tenant to throw money at to maintain? Yeah, I’m sure that’ll work out great.

    Reinick may diplomatically give credit to Ozahrun for his vision of what might have been, but what he gave to the community is a nice eyesore.

    • The idea behind this sort of facade is to serve many purposes… decor and insulation at the fore. I wouldn’t say there is a “mess left behind” but and opportunity for a tenant who could maximize the space. Who could argue that a more energy efficient building is bad? Or that fragrant native plants serving that purpose are out of place?

      • Behind my skepticism from the outset there certainly was an appreciation for the idea of the garden and what it potentially could accomplish, but it didn’t take too long to see that in this case the idea worked better in theory than in practice, most likely because Ozharun couldn’t commit to the upkeep for it to flourish.

        If the new tenant has the resources to pick up the botanical baton and commit to restoring and revitalizing and maintaining the garden, great. But to me that’s a pretty big if to bear — and one that the owner’s entirely unwilling to help carry.

  11. Certainly the building looks better now as a whole (even with the tattered wall garden), than when it was the video store?

  12. A small organic market would dovetail nicely here with the bi-weekly farmers market, the bakery next door and the plans for expanding the mini-park.

  13. I think the idea of the garden wall is nice but it always looked like it hadn’t came together well. From a far it looks like half of the plants are dead. I like the idea of the old walls being exposed too. No more salons please. No more coffee or bars..A nice little organic mini market would be nice though. I just hope it wont stay empty for long. The circuit city is such an eye sore as it is..and soon the blockbuster will be empty too.

  14. I live a few doors down. At least the video store maintained the parking lot and kept the area on the Maltman side of the sidewalk clean and neat. For two years the salon has just let the Maltman side of their property (by the parking lot) become a junk dump, overgrown weed-infested mattress dump spot. It really has blighted that whole side of the street down near the salon. The video mart was actually a much better neighbor.

  15. Douchebag owner. Douchbag tenant. I’m tired of business owners moving into a community and not having a clue about their surroundings. This place was an eyesore from day one. Chris is right, this place never came close to filling out.

  16. Starbucks or Coffee Bean please.

  17. Vegetal walls of this sort were originally created in France. France has quite a bit more humidity than here. Interestingly, there are some species that did seem to flourish. Had he scrapped the dead species for the ones that were living the whole thing could have come together. I think the best strategy for greening walls in Los Angeles is to use a vine with roots in the ground. You still get the energy savings while using much less water than with a vegetal wall.

    • I’ve seen setups albeit on a much smaller scale operate with rockwool and a solar pump/hose system to recirculate water as it passes through and collects at a base near the bottom. Really neat stuff, just haven’t had the time to create my own prototype.

  18. I keep hearing that Chipotle is looking to move into the neighborhood. I wonder if this could be the location as it seems like it could be about the right size and has parking.

    • I second DJ Bento’s remarks about hipster sheep. This wall is just one example of people who have to show the world how green/hip/conscious/trendy/etc. they are by using their privilege to buy into the latest hip fad—be it food, retail, pets, architecture, beverages, landscaping, you name it—without giving much, if any, thought to the process itself, much less the impact/repercussions/personal and community responsibility involved.

    • Let’s hope not.

  19. im up for more food!

  20. A gym is much needed.

  21. Stories Books and Cafe ( Echo Park )
    Skylight Books ( Los Feliz )
    Alias Books ( Atwater Village )
    ???????? ( Silver Lake )

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