General Photography

Generous Reception and Bio-Wall at Centennial College Library and Academic Building

Although I arrived near the end of a 2011 reception in honour of Centennial College’s New Library and Academic Building (Progress Campus), neither the food nor the punch were entirely depleted.

A catering student urged remaining guests and random students in the Commons to finish off the food: “Come on everybody — grab a napkin and eat up these sandwiches!” He made large crowd-gathering motions with his arms and added, “I don’t want to see any of this food in the trash.” At least a dozen students rushed to his aid, carting off double handfuls of pastry and sandwiches to their tables.

Responding to the summons, I downed a lemon tart as I took in the busy scene of multiple study groups gathered in the open courtyard. Two floors above, glass-walled rooms devoted to communal study could be seen in the library: illuminated cross-sections of learning in action.

Much as I enjoyed the bustle of library activity and the sleek new building, the main attraction was this living wall. When I first saw it, I wanted to sit at its roots.

The wild elegance of an indoor vertical garden is a delight in itself, but this gorgeous bio-wall is more than a decorative feature. According to an explanatory leaflet, the wall-plants grow “in a synthetic rooting media . . . . Contaminated room air is drawn through the root zone of the plants, which acts as a biological filter, where pollutants are broken down by microbes into water and carbon dioxide.”

I celebrate this generous wall that gives back to its community, quietly transforming toxins into fresh air while students tap at their keyboards. May the new bio-wall inspire calm and learning with its hopeful green presence.

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