by Jessica Greenspan

Cramped, grimy, urban. These are the words typically used to describe New York City. And people both love it and hate it for that. Look a bit closer though, down alleyways and inside glittering office buildings, and you might find something a bit more organic.

Living walls – commonly known as green-walls or vertical gardens — better the environments they serve by simply existing. Comprising pre-vegetated panels fixed to a wall, these systems serve as aesthetically-pleasing works of art. They also cool and clean the air, guard against noise pollution, and even increase property values.

Did you know that nature — the green stuff seldom seen but often dreamed of in Manhattan — has been shown to improve mental wellness? With the stressful daily grind of New Yorkers, this greenery is a welcome guest, serving as a calming device that decreases irritability while increasing productivity and creativity.

For these reasons, living walls are sprouting up all over the city and even the globe.

Let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful living wall installations in New York.

1. Tapestry Wall Inside a 23-story Atrium

This living wall, a block from the Freedom Tower, is located in the 23-story atrium of a corporate office building. It’s NYC’s largest indoor living wall. The thousands of plants all have similar light and water requirements, but are different enough to make up the unique patterns of the plant tapestry. The wall enlivens the otherwise barren space; one employee remarked, “I just feel better working here now that I walk in and see this beautiful living wall every day. You can’t put a price on that.”

2. WeWork Park Ave

Though small, these strategic pockets of living wall make a large impact in this space. As a co-working environment with little natural light, these bursts of green calm and focus workers.

3. StudioTag Showroom

This plush wall adds a breath of fresh air to the otherwise dark, sumptuous tones of this space, displaying the art-like qualities of living walls.

4. Etsy HQ

Etsy’s DUMBO headquarters prominently features this 50-ft green wall, located in their “Etsytorium.” In addition to this large wall, all nine floors of the building got a living makeover with smaller wall displays and planters.

5. 30-Rock

Built in just three days, this wall lives in the iconic 30 Rock building. With all the visitors and filming going on at this location, the wall gets plenty of coverage and admiration from all passersby.

6. Mama Sushi

Inside Mama Sushi restaurant lives this robust green wall, demonstrating how big an impact one wall of greenery can make in an otherwise modern, sleek space.

7. 685 Third Avenue Pocket Park

Located outdoors, this wall also dramatically improves its environment. It is made up of over 11,000 plants and punctuated by a cascading water feature, adding to the already soothing, climate-friendly properties of the wall.

8. Cranberry Street Garden

Winner of PLANET’s 2011 Environmental Improvement Awards, this small garden is transformed by a small but striking living wall, surrounded by more traditional plantings. The addition of a tree makes it the ideal space to experience nature in the middle of the bustling metropolis.

9. Rutgers University

Not quite in New York City…but, located inside the NJ Institute for Food, Nutrition, & Health, this living wall serves as a welcome reminder of the need to connect with nature to improve mental well-being, especially for students who may not have time to take a walk outside. This gorgeous wall is replete with different colors and textures, demanding the attention of passersby.

10. Clinical Mind

This living wall fits in very well at Clinical Mind, a company specializing in therapeutic services. But, unlike the company’s technology-driven approach to therapy, this wall delivers wellness benefits in the most natural way, invigorating the largely monotone space.

To learn about some of our team’s living wall installations around NYC, check out our projects page. And, enjoy the walk through the (ever growing) forest of NYC.