THE INTERDISCIPLINARY TEAM

The popularity of interior plantings has grown faster than the ability of any one profession to stay abreast of it all. A successful interior planting in a commercial building requires the expertise of interior plantscapers, plant growers, interior decorators, landscape architects, architects, main­tenance professionals, and building management. Each professional brings his or her point of view to the project. The architect sees the plants as architectural features, not as living organisms. Building management personnel want the plants to attract customers and please employees, but they too do not have a horticultural sense of plant needs. Maintenance professionals regard the plants as something to be dusted, watered, and fertilized. They are concerned about the proximity of water, the difficulty of changing lamps, and the ease of reaching the plants. Each has concerns and contributions to the planning process that the others need to know.

The success of the plantscape is measured by its appearance and health. The interior plantscaper should be consulted while the build­ing is still in the planning stage because errors in lighting quality and intensity can be difficult to correct later. Drainage of planters directly into the building’s drainage pipes requires that plantings be sited per­manently and near the pipes. Watering of the plantings necessitates a nearby supply of water to which a hose can be attached. A shopping mall or office lobby should have appropriate water outlets every 50 feet along the wall, and preferably, within each planter. Otherwise, hoses will be stretched across walkways, endangering pedestrians and creat­ing puddles. Maintenance of the plantings should be the responsibility of a contracted professional plant maintenance firm that should work closely with the architect to ensure sufficient water outlets, storage space accessibility for equipment, and so on. Failure to involve the maintenance firm in the early stages of planning can result in an unat­tractive plantscape shortly after installation. The managers of the build­ing must be made to understand why specific lamps are needed for plant survival, even if less expensive ones are available.

In short, fewer problems will develop for the interior planting if all pro­fessionals whose work impacts on it work together from the beginning. At present, such interdisciplinary cooperation is the exception rather than the rule. The failure to use the team approach is often a case of architects not realizing their own limitations with horticultural materials.