Drew School


Exterior Green Wall

Project: Drew School, Sam Cuddeback Assembly Wing, San Francisco, CA, 1,750 square foot vertical garden

Project Architect and Landscape Architect: ROMA Design Group (Award Winner)
Designer of Vertical Garden: Patrick Blanc
Structural / Waterproofing: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
Irrigation Consultant: DD Pagano, Inc.
Irrigation Components: Rain Bird, Toro, Fertiboost, Badger
LEED Certification: Simon & Associates
General Contractor: Herrero Contractors, Inc.
Landscape Contractor / Nursery: Rana Creek Design

“The Drew vertical garden demonstrates how sustainability and biodiversity can more visibly contribute to the quality of the urban environment.”

– Bonnie Fisher, principal, ROMA Design Group

A Vertical Learning Experience

The green wall project at the Drew School was built with the objective to achieve an extraordinary level of biodiversity within the context of a highly urbanized environment where space is at a premium and where the majority of that space is compacted and paved. It was also created to provide a model for other schools that demonstrates the comprehensive benefits of landscape and building technology.

The creation of the school’s new theatrical arts and assembly building meant that there would be a blank wall along the street, which offered a perfect canvas for vertical planting and an opportunity to create a highly visible and accessible garden of native wildflowers, shrubs and small trees.

The building’s green roof and wall were planned together to create a unified expression of biodiversity and ecological richness. More than 100 different species of native coastal bluff ecoregion plants are planted on the wall, which attracts hummingbirds and butterflies to this dense urban location. Plantings range from small trees and tall shrubs at the top of the wall to smaller plants immediately visible adjacent to the sidewalk. There is very little maintenance needed—about three or four times a year a lift is used for weeding, pruning and minor replanting.


As this project was implemented for a school, educational programming of the wall is of paramount importance. The 1,800 square foot garden is viewed and experienced daily by the students and faculty and its growth and change is recorded and shared with the larger scientific community, including the Academy of Sciences and the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. It is a living laboratory and a wellspring of learning, and the environmental effects it has on the surrounding neighborhood are integrated into the school curriculum.

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