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Living Art Pioneer Dave MacKenzie Takes His Art to the Next Level for ArtPrize 2014

September 19, 2014
September 19, 2014

Last year, artist Dave MacKenzie debuted his unique brand of living art using a 1,400 square foot living wall system containing 2,500 plants at ArtPrize®, the world’s largest publicly voted art contest.  This year, Dave is back with a bigger and more intricate design.  Entitled ‘Breathe,’ the living mural is home to more than 3500 plants and reaches over 20 feet tall at its peak and stretches 150 feet long.

ArtPrize 2014 Web Site PR Post

‘Breathe’ separates itself from MacKenzie’s earlier work by breaking the traditional mold of a rectangular canvas.  The new design is curvilinear, graphic, and interactive.

“The largest graphic includes a windblown pattern of color in which white flowers spell Breathe O2 (oxygen) and symbolize the air.  The green patterns, above and below, represent the forests and fields.  And, the yellow in the upper right hand corner symbolizes the sun, which fuels photosynthesis, which yields oxygen (O2),” says designer Dave MacKenzie.

“This vital process happens within the leaves, and therefore ‘Breathe’ also features leaf-shaped graphics of Michigan native trees, including catalpa, oak, beech and maple,” MacKenzie adds.

Using the LiveWall® system as the canvas, the entry surrounds and buffers the noise and odors of the B.O.B.’s waste dumpsters and air-conditioning equipment.  ‘Breathe’ was inspired by the idea of restoring the built environment to a more natural state.  The living architecture movement is a growing trend in design that aims to restore balance to urban settings by reintroducing vegetation lost during urbanization.

ArtPrize 2014 Website PR Post 2

MacKenzie stretched beyond the use of plants and incorporated lighting elements into the design of his piece as well.  These lights trace the outline of the leaf shapes and the veins that run through the leaves.  MacKenzie explained that these features symbolize the important role that light plays in the photosynthetic process, which creates the air we breathe.

MacKenzie hopes that his piece will inspire others to become passionate about living architecture and green walls.  “It’s essentially an environmental statement showcasing the importance of plants in our world,” MacKenzie said.

‘Breathe’ can be viewed outside of the B.O.B. during ArtPrize, which runs September 24 to October 11, 2014.

Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit Offers Free Rides This Week, Thousands Enjoy Living Wall at Central Station Stop

August 29, 2014
August 29, 2014

This week, Grand Rapid’s New Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit service officially opened, offering free rides to everyone through Sunday, August 31.  At the Central Station stop for the Silver Line, riders enjoy a cooler wait next to the living wall installed last month as part of an effort to replace the landscaping lost when the new bus stop seating and shading were added for the line.

Riders eager to try out the new Silver Line on it's opening day stay cool next to the stop's living wall, which reduces the reflected light and heat for a more comfortable wait.

Riders eager to try out the new Silver Line on it’s opening day stay cool next to the stop’s living wall, which reduces the reflected light and heat for a more comfortable and relaxing wait.

Read more about the Rapid Central Station’s LiveWall brand green wall on our news page.

Read more about the Rapid’s New Silver Line on or

Grand Rapids Downtown Market Expands Green Space With Indoor Living Wall

August 27, 2014
August 27, 2014

Following closely on the heels of the recent LEED Gold certification, the Grand Rapids Downtown Market is becoming even greener.  The Downtown Market added a 202 square-foot indoor living wall this week, installed by local manufacturer LiveWall, LLC.  The new addition adds more than 100 new plants to the second floor atrium across from the teaching kitchen and complements the outdoor living walls and the upstairs greenhouse space.


Downtown Market Indoor Living Wall


“Like our outdoor green walls, which help cool the building, serve as vertical garden space and restore lost habitat, the indoor LiveWall will benefit our visitors and staff,” said Claire Duthler, Downtown Market’s leasing and special events coordinator.  “The wall provides oxygen and humidification, reduces airborne pollutants and improves our indoor space, environmentally, psychologically and physically.  When people are surrounded by nature, they feel more contented, creative, happy, and healthy.”

LiveWall, LLC is partnering with the Downtown Market, to help broaden their portfolio of design concepts by testing different display plants and planting patterns, and to increase the vertical green space inside the Market Hall.  LiveWall also planned and planted the outdoor vertical walls, as well as the LiveRoof system at the Downtown Market.


Downtown Market Indoor Vertical Garden


“Over the next few years, we’ll use the wall to educated designers and architects in the pairing of plants in our living wall system,” said Dave MacKenzie, LiveWall, LLC president.  “This vertical garden is unique, as it will showcase an unusually broad array of plant material.  Our initial planting is naturalistic with rich-leaved tropical species, but I anticipate a seasonal display of poinsettias, and some really unique plants and patterns in the future.”

See more on

The Rapid and LiveWall Bring Nature to Riders

July 8, 2014
July 8, 2014

Patrons waiting to catch a ride at Rapid Central Station will now enjoy one of the cities largest outdoor living walls.

The 500 square foot planted wall was completed last week by a joint effort between LiveWall LLC and Summit Landscape Management of Grand Rapids.  The green wall took approximately four days to install and plant with a selection of colorful, cold-hardy perennials (grown in Spring Lake by LiveWall, LLC).

The Rapid is a nationally recognized leader for its sustainability initiatives, including hybrid busses and LEED certified buildings, many of which feature green roofs.  The Rapid’s green roofs help to protect water quality by reducing runoff, and restore lost habitat, and save on cooling costs.

The living wall also helps to cool the building and restore lost habitat, but unlike the green roofs, it is uniquely visible to The Rapid’s customers.  “This planted wall helps connect our urban riders with nature.  We’ve transformed a steel and concrete surface into a public garden, providing a more pleasant and relaxing stop between bus lines,” said Peter Varga, CEO of The Rapid.

“We worked with a local contractor and a local supplier who uses western Michigan sources of plants, soil, plastics, and aluminum, ensuring that this investment in public health also benefits the local economy,” said Steve Schipper, the Rapid’s manager of fleet and facilities.

LiveWall president Dave MacKenzie, who also owns LiveRoof, LLC, the company that supplied the living roofs atop The Rapid, is confident that the additional green space will have a positive impact on the city’s residents.




“When it comes to the social and environmental benefits of keeping people connected to nature, the evidence is piling up.  From lasting positive impacts on mental health, to reduced vandalism and crime rates, to cooler and cleaner city air, reintroducing plants lost to development is a very good move for the community.  And, with a living wall, beautiful and functional gardens can thrive where no workable land is available.”

The Rapid’s green wall will be the fourth publicly visible LiveWall System in Grand Rapids.  Currently there are 1400 square feet of vertical garden, mostly edible plants, installed at the B.O.B., the Downtown Market contains an 800 square foot living wall on the south and west walls, and the John Ball Zoo has a green wall on the rooftop of the chimpanzee house.

About The Rapid

The Rapid ( provided over 12.5 million rides last year, a new record in public transportation trips in the greater Grand Rapids area.

B.O.B. Chefs Plant Food; Downtown Grand Rapids, on Wall

May 30, 2014
May 30, 2014

Remember the “Back to Eden” 2013 ArtPrize entry (which finished in the top 25)?  That wall, or rather LiveWall®, has been transformed into an immense vertical urban farm, where 1000’s of herbs and vegetables are growing for use at the restaurants within the B.O.B. (Big Old Building).

Gilmore Group Chefs help to plant the living wall system at the B.O.B.

Gilmore Group Chefs help to plant the living wall system at the B.O.B.

“During ArtPrize, I used about 1,500 plants, mostly annuals, as I wanted lots of color,” sated Dave MacKenzie, horticulturalist and inventor of the LiveWall system.  “After a few hard frosts last fall, the annuals were replaced with perennials for winter.  Half of those, the ones on the shady side of the building, will remain until ArtPrize this year (MacKenzie is planning another ArtPrize entry).  Those others, on the sunny side, have been removed and replaced with herbs and vegetables.”

“I’m excited about this,” added Greg Gilmore, partner in the B.O.B. “We expect the LiveWall to produce an ounce of herbs per square foot per week (there are about 500 square feet of herbs), and a whole lot of peppers and tomatoes.  We will also have some leafy greens and some carrots, which is pretty amazing.  The face of the wall is about 700 square feet total, and we’re expecting a bumper crop that our chefs will use for making seasonings, dressings, salad and garnishes.  It’s going to be interesting, and it’s possible that we’ll produce more than we can use.  If that’s the case, we have some charitable organizations in mind for sharing of any extra produce.

LiveWall Herbs

The B.O.B.’s chefs are excited as well.  And, they were happy to help with the planting.  Head chef Jared Miller is no stranger to gardening, and has been exposed to it at some of the Gilmore Collections’ other restaurants.  “But, this is the first time we’re growing produce on a wall, and the first time we’re doing it in an urban setting.  We use a lot of herbs, a whole lot of peppers and tomatoes, and we always have to watch our budget and look after flavor and freshness.  This wall planting takes into account all of that, and at the same time adds greenery and artistry to the facility and to downtown. We’re all very excited about this.”

The B.O.B. will begin using the herbs right away, and the peppers and tomatoes and some of the other vegetable items will come later in the growing season.  The LiveWall is located on the north side of the B.O.B., and is easily accessible.  To learn more visit  To see video of the planting check out ABC affiliate WZZMs coverage of the event.

LiveWall, LLC and the B.O.B. Plan North America’s Largest Wall-to-Table Initiative

April 15, 2014
April 15, 2014

Remember the Top 25 “Back to Eden” ArtPrize entry?  The 1400 square foot living wall, or rather LiveWall®, is currently filled with hardy perennials, and, despite one of the harshest winters in local memory, all of the plants have survived.  But, come May, only half of them will remain; the other half will be swapped for some 1500+ herb and vegetable plants will be returned for reuse to Hortech, Inc. the nursery that grew them and parent company of LiveWall, LLC.

ArtPrize LiveWall

“As far as I know, this will be the largest ‘food wall’ in North America, and I am ecstatic about this initiative,” said Dave MacKenzie, inventor of the LiveWall system and ArtPrize artist.  The chefs at the various restaurants within the B.O.B. will have access to fresh, organically grown plants that range from peppers and tomatoes to an array of leafy greens and herbs.

“Using the B.O.B.’s vertical garden as a food wall fits with our 30 year effort to source locally (from West Michigan farms) and our current practice of growing on-site at many of our restaurants,” says B.O.B. owner Greg Gilmore.  “In this case, we’re taking locally grown freshness to the next level – to an urban setting.  This is a way to optimize our space, control our budget, and to equip our chefs with the very best in flavor and nutritional value.  Our chefs are like artists; artists that use food as their medium, and they take tremendous pride in their work.  This is a way to support and empower them so they can d their very best work.”


Head Chef Jered Miller concurs, “When Greg presented me with the idea of growing food on site, I didn’t have to think twice.  Herbs and certain vegetables make up a significant part of our budget, and we can save some money, but even more valuable is the freshness.  There is nothing better than freshly harvested flavor, and to be able to harvest and use the product within minutes…well, I don’t know how you can top that.  We will be growing a broad variety of herbs, some leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, and even a few ‘surprise’ items that I envision using in all sorts of dishes and dressings, and perhaps even a few special menu items like a ‘LiveWall salad’ composed of fresh herbs and greens.  It’s exciting, and has my creative juices flowing.”

The two, Gilmore and MacKenzie, have also collaborated on an indoor LiveWall system that will grow hops, Located in the atrium leading from the second to third floor, near Dr. Grins Comedy Club, they acknowledge that growing this type of crop in an indoor green wall is experimental.  And, even if it doesn’t produce a bumper crop of hops for making beer in the onsite microbrewery, it will add to the decor, create some green space, and give off oxygen.

Walls of Greenery Greet Visitors Escaping Cold at Great Lakes Area Home Shows

March 7, 2014
March 7, 2014

Grand Rapids, Mich., Lansing, Mich., Kalamazoo, Mich., and Chicago, Ill. – Visitors to several garden shows in the Great Lakes Region will escape the cold to walls of lush green plants.  The vertical wall displays, courtesy of LiveWall, LLC of Spring Lake, Mich., are currently featured at the following home shows:

Frame Yourself with Plants

Green wall displays give home show visitors opportunity to surround themselves with green in an escape from the frigid outdoors.

Grand Rapids Home and Garden Show – Now open until March 9 at Devos Place,
admission Adult – $10 | Child (6-14) – $4. | 5 & Under – Free.

Kalamazoo Home Expo and Garden Show – Now open until March 8 at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center,
admission $10 | 12 & Under– Free.

Lansing Home and Garden Show – March 13-16, at the MSU Pavilion,
admission Adult – $9 | Children (6-14) – $4 | 5 & Under – Free

Chicago Flower & Garden Show – March 15-23 at Navy Pier,
admission Adult – $15-$19 | Children (4-12) – $5 | 3 & Under – Free

Several of the vertical gardens will feature a picture frame cut out for photo ops.  Visitors that share their photos on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #livewall will be featured in a video montage published by LiveWall, LLC in late March.

The LiveWall System was used in a 2013 ArtPrize entry voted by the public into the Top 25 of the world’s largest art prize, held annually in Grand Rapids, Mich.  The piece, Back to Eden by artist Dave MacKenzie, was a 130’ long x 11’ high living canvas containing over 2500 plants.  MacKenzie will reenter ArtPrize this fall with a new living work of art outside the B.O.B.

Note to Editors on Project Photos: Download High Resolution Photos via DropBox


LiveWall’s Dave MacKenzie Featured in A Garden Life Magazine

November 22, 2013
November 22, 2013

In her feature “A Tapestry of Plants,” Michelle Simikis of A Garden Life Magazine explores living walls as art with an in-depth interview by Dave MacKenzie, LiveWall president and designer of Back to Eden.

Read, “A Tapestry of Plants” […]

Dave MacKenzie - A Tapestry of Plants - A Garden Life Magazine


Introducing LiveWall Indoor, the Drip-Free Version of LiveWall®, the Green Wall System That Works

November 20, 2013
November 20, 2013

New Option for Improving Health, Wellness, Air Quality, and Enjoyment
in Offices, Schools, Healthcare and Retail Spaces

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. and PHILADELPHIA, Penn. — November 20, 2013 — LiveWall, LLC announced the introduction of LiveWall® Indoor, the interior version of LiveWall®, the living wall system that transforms ordinary walls into vertical green landscapes. LiveWall Indoor is a drip-free planted wall system engineered to sustain tropical plants indoors.

“As soon as we introduced LiveWall, our customers asked us for a system that had the same natural function with water containment,” said Dave MacKenzie, horticulturalist and president of LiveWall, LLC.  Recognizing the demand for a green wall system specifically suited to the needs of tropical plants and sensitive to protecting interior surfaces, MacKenzie and his team began developing and testing various concepts.

To solve the need to protect interior surfaces, the LiveWall Indoor system is watered by drip stakes in the soil instead of the mist nozzles used outdoors.  Additionally, the wall planters have a rear drain which completely contains water used in the system.

To grow healthy tropical plants, which typically have larger root systems, the green wall planters hold twice the soil as the outdoor version.

Before LiveWall even had the product on the shelves, the company was accepting orders for the LiveWall Indoor system.  The system has already been used by Pink Dolphin, an urban clothing retailer at their flagship store in San Francisco, California.

“Dozens of other projects have already been designed with LiveWall Indoor, before we even introduced it to the market,” said MacKenzie.  “These building owners are telling us that they want indoor living walls to set themselves apart by providing a relaxing environment with improved indoor air quality, and healthier, happier residents, customers and employees.”

An indoor LiveScreen®, the mobile version of LiveWall, is also available as either an automatically irrigated or hand-watered model.  LiveScreen Indoor units are double-sided green walls on wheels, which arrive fully assembled and ready to plant.

LiveWall offers infrastructure design services to clients seeking to incorporate indoor or outdoor living walls into their project design or as an addition to existing buildings.

LiveWall, LLC will showcase both the LiveWall Outdoor and LiveWall Indoor vertical greening systems at GreenBuild, the US Green Building Council conference and expo, November 20-21, 2013 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. LiveWall will be at booth #1049.

Download the LiveWall Indoor Product Guide.


Media Contact: Amber Ponce ▲ 616-935-1964 ▲

LiveWall and the B.O.B Commit to Downtown Greening

November 1, 2013
November 1, 2013

The “Back to Eden” ArtPrize entry by LiveWall, LLC owner David MacKenzie will stay with the B.O.B., for at least for another year.



Ranking in the top 25 during the 2013 ArtPrize competition, “Back to Eden” is a 1,400 square foot abstract painting – with plants as the “paint” (mostly annual plants).  “Back to Eden” resonated with ArtPrize attendees because of its design, nighttime effect, and environmental statement.  It served as a popular backdrop for photography and a stimulus to conversations about environmental stewardship, urban greening, and the importance of plants and nature in our lives.

Originally the plan, for after ArtPrize, was to “take it down,” but neither B.O.B owner, Greogory Gilmore, nor LiveWall, LLC owner David MacKenzie were ready to do that; MacKenzie and Gilmore met shortly after ArtPrize and discussed the exhibit, and while Gilmore states “he would love to own it,” he has plans to develop the north side of the B.O.B.’s property in the near future.  Gilmore stated that a firm date has not been set for the new development, but plans are moving ahead, and unfortunately the new development will occupy the space where ‘Back to Eden’ currently resides.  Instead he offered the use of the space to MacKenzie for joint promotions, to use as an outdoor showroom, and for another ArtPrize entry in 2014.

MacKenzie says, “This is a good arrangement for all concerned; I don’t have to worry about relocating the wall right now.  The B.O.B. is a central and highly visible location to showcase our LiveWall system and a broad array of plants.”  MacKenzie has already replanted the wall with some 2,000 + winter hardy-perennials, and next year plans to replace some of them with colorful annuals, as well as herbs and vegetables for use in the B.O.B.’s various kitchens.



The B.O.B’s LiveWall installation is located on the north side of the building and is visible and accessible for viewing by the public almost anytime.  Neighbors in surrounding offices and condominiums will enjoy watching the seasonal changes including winter colors, springtime foliage, and summertime flowers.  The LiveWall system surrounds the mechanical units and dumpsters of the B.O.B., and these are now surrounded on three sides with colorful plants – it’s a nice way to disguise these elements.

“We know that the public will benefit,” say both Gilmore and MacKenzie.  “There will be beauty, oxygenation of the air, cooling of the surrounding environment, those sorts of things, and it will be interesting to see how the LiveWall impacts urban wildlife.”  MacKenzie expects the LiveWall to act as an urban oasis attracting mourning doves, hummingbirds, butterflies, and honeybees.

The B.O.B.’s green wall will be the third publicly visible LiveWall system in Grand Rapids.  Currently there are 800 square feet of LiveWall on the south and west walls of Grand Rapids’ new Downtown Market, and just recently John Ball Zoo installed a LiveWall on the rooftop of the chimpanzee house.

The LiveWall is one of the features of the Downtown Market which contributes to its environmental statement, energy savings, and its ability to achieve Green Building Council’s LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).  Certified LEED buildings cost less to operate and are a physical demonstration of the values of the organization that own and occupy them.

About LiveWall

Based in Spring Lake, Michigan, LiveWall®, LLC is the top horticultural science company in the planted wall industry.  Exceptional in design and function, the LiveWall system is developed and manufactured in West Michigan and offers the most effective horticultural solution for vegetated walls.

Note to Editors on Project Photos: Flickr link for photos