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

I arrived near the end of a 2011 reception in honour of Centennial College’s New Library and Academic Building (Progress Campus), but a couple of punch bowls were still flowing in orange and red.

Soon, the catering staff started encouraging everybody in the Commons to finish off the food. One extrovert caterer hollered, “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 in the open courtyard. Two floors above us, glass-walled rooms devoted to communal study could be seen in the library proper: illuminated cross-sections of learning in action.

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

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The wild elegance of an indoor vertical garden is a delight in itself, but this gorgeous bio-wall is far 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.”

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Please join me in celebrating a generous wall that gives back to its community, quietly transforming toxins into fresh air as students engage in learning  by the roots! May the new library’s bio-wall inspire all who experience its calming green presence.

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