The Final Few of our Favorite things… 2014

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The Rooftop garden at The Pennsylvania Bldg, 1275 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, D.C. 

1275 Penn Ave--103114 1The owners of the property needed to hide some mechanical units on their roof. Architect Hickok Cole suggested our VGM green wall to create a decorative “screen.” Gregory Long of Capitol Greenroofs worked with James Davis Construction to create this 42′ x 8′ free standing vegetated wall that was built and grown in with vegetation designed to thrive in both the hot summers and cold DC winters.

• 1200 W Madison project, Chicago, IL •

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A brand new, high end apartment building in Chicago’s West Loop area was looking to go upscale with their roof top amenity space. Otherwise knows as the Rotunda, this space greatly benefited from our large Wilshire Rounds as a way in which to “green” this most definitely urban environment. Our thanks to Site Design Group in Chicago and Intrinsic Landscape for including us in this project.

• The Village at Chandler Fashion Center, Chandler, AZ

If you’ve seen our recent ads, you know that this installation is truly one of our favorites. Not only a showstopper due to the great colors, but also a showcase of how pots can add life and landscape to any hardscape. Mike Faulkner, of SmithGroupJJR, took on this project to revitalize the underperforming outdoor courtyard space. “Designing in raised planters and usage of the huge Tournesol Downtown collection pots allowed us to add landscape, shade and a modern look and feel without disruption to the facility. The pots were a great way to add landscape to any space that would typically require tearing out and replacing hardscape.”

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 • And, Celebrating 20! •

The year wouldn’t be complete without recognizing, once again, that April brought us to the 20th anniversary of Tournesol Siteworks and the 35th anniversary of our predecessor, Planter Technology.

From our President…  I am delighted that I found myself in this business. We enhance the public good. We work at the intersection of landscape and architecture, making green possible for buildings and urban settings. We can be satisfied that we soften the constructed environment, and bring a piece of nature to city dwellers. I never have to apologize for the products we manufacture, or their effect on the environment.

I’ve really enjoyed the many people who’ve shared in the experience of growing this company. My greatest challenge is continuing to offer them an environment where they can make the most of their talents, and earn a good living while doing it. When I think back over 20 years, i recognize the impact they have made on this business, and it wouldn’t be the same without them. Thank you to them and to our customers.

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Favorite Things

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The year wouldn’t be complete without a list of “a few of our favorite things….” from 2014.

• This past March the Disney Corp. and Starbuck’s opened their first location in Downtown Disney and wanted something unique at the location. Architects Orange and LandStudio 360 with David Ling, were tasked to bring a unique element to this specific Starbucks store. Tournesol Siteworks was thrilled to be a player in this high profile installation as our VGM system was the perfect solution.

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• This year also brought a lot of buzz to our Boulevard Wood line. Originally developed for  bench and table site furnishings, Boulevard wood is now available in tiles and decking. In addition to a 25+ year lifespan, 2014 brought it a Class A flame spread rating. It possesses all the performance advantages of ipe and other South American hardwoods, but none of the environmental baggage. We’re especially pleased to be one of the few domestic producers of thermally modified products, keeping production jobs in the U.S.

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• We also took a lot of “look backs” this year to see how our products stand the test of time. While most of our installations exceeded our high expectations, this stood out as one of our favorites – three years laterThe Center for Early Education in West Hollywood, CA.

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Thanks to a great maintenance team at Instant Jungle the VGM wall looks even better today than when first installed! Landscape Architects, Rios Clementi Hale Studios.

And, a personal favorite from your blogger, the first installation of our new Harlie Collection planters. This planter comes to us by way of our collaboration with Australian designer,  Luxxbox . The faceted shape draws on gemology and mathematical principles with a playful edge. Can’t wait to see it in more installations in 2015 in a variety of eye-catching colors.

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ASLA 2014 – Highlights from the floor

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This year’s Am. Soc. of Landscape Architects conference was held the weekend before Thanksgiving at the Denver Convention Center. Obviously, everyone wanted to attend!

IMG_1807The ASLA is the most important conference of the year for us as it allows us to meet new landscape architects, and check in with clients and friends from all over the country. We greatly value the opportunity to introduce our newest products, check out what other manufacturers are doing and connect with entire landscape community.This year was our first sponsoring the Landscape Architecture Foundation - a fantastic organization working to advance the cause of landscape architecture through research and scholarship. We were delighted to be able to attend the gala, and make a ton of new friends.

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At our booth we featured a lot of our new Boulevard thermally-modified wood - in a new planter design that will be released soon, as well as our Boulevard wood tiles . The market is quickly recognizing the same opportunity – there were three other manufacturers offering alternative wood products that could replace ipe. Unlike the others, our Boulevard wood starts with high-quality ash and oak hardwoods, and uses heat to create a 25-year wood product. Nevertheless, we know we’re on the right track when others are jumping into the market!

We also showed the Pebble stool and  Marina garbage can (both designs by our partners at Street & Garden), and the Rune bench and Harlie Collection planters (designs by Luxxbox of Australia). The attendees loved them!

We are sorry if you weren’t able to attend or we missed you, But you can see what you missed here:

CitiesAlive green roof and living wall conference – Nashville

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We were at the CitiesAlive conference last week – the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities conference in Nashville, TN. It’s a great show, where we see many of the designers and contractors working on roofdeck projects around the country. There were a lot of new visitors to the show – this is the first time that the conference has been held in the SouthEast, and there is a real move forwards this type of construction here. Our living wall systems (VGM3 and VGP, VertiGreen trellis) still get a lot of attention, but the real star of the show has been the Boulevard wood tiles. These folks install a lot of wood structural tiles, and between the VersiJack pedestals and tiles we got a lot of inquiries!

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As part of the conference, I was asked to speak on a panel discussing “Living walls- expectation vs. reality”. I spoke with Melissa Daniels of Plant Connection in New York (one of the most knowledgable person on living wall plants around) and Greg Long of Capital Greenroofs in Washington DC. You’ll remember Greg from is installation of the VGM wall at 1275 Pennsylvania in Washington. I was asked to present on the client’s perspective on living walls. My point- there are many “clients”. Whether the building owner that commits to the green wall, the facility manager responsible for maintnenance, or the architect or designer, each had a different perspective (and measure of success).

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The conference was held at the brand-new Omni hotel in Nashville. Our pedestals were used (over 6000 total) on the pool deck and recreation area under the ipe paver tiles (by our friends at Eco-Arbor) and concrete pavers. It is a beautiful installation- and you’ll never see our products! It was one of the first really large pedestal projects we worked on, and one that we were anxious to see the results of. Overall it was a great installation – the pedestals did their job, and felt solid underfoot. There wasn’t anyone out enjoying the pool- it was only 27deg that morning!

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This show/conference has become a can’t-miss on our schedule. It gives us the chance to see the main players in green roof and green wall from around the country in one place. We met with the folks that have installed some of our largest projects this year, and it gives us the chance to get important feedback.

We don’t have a lot of time to decompress, however, because the ASLA conference is this week!

GFRC concrete fits this multi-family residential project

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We wanted to share a project in our own backyard that we particularly like.

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Ambassador Residences in Emeryville, CA

Designed by Cliff Lowe Assoc., this was one of those projects that was conceived prior to the downturn, then mothballed for several years. We are glad to have been able to be part of the revival. Multi-family residential communities are the backdrop for a lot of the work that we do. They are demanding in terms of traffic and abuse, so demand something that wears as well as it looks!

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Installed by our friends at Cohen Landscape (a division of Celtis Group), the project features our lightweight GFRC concrete containers, including the Downtown and Wilshire Collections, in a variety of sizes and shapes.

To create a visually interesting display, the design called for the Downtown pots in 24″, 36″ and the enormous 60″ sizes, as well as a large number of Wilshire rectangles 72 x 24 x 24. All of the pots were completed in our acid-etch finish in the shark color.

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The containers have a natural stone feel that fit well with the modern design aesthetic. It’s a look and feel that can’t be replicated in painted fiberglass – the reason that we manufacture in both FRP and lightweight concrete.

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While providing durability and value, these light-weight planters hold up to the rigors of an high-traffic, multi-family landscape. A great example of what we do every day!

October Round Up

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The GreenBuild International Conference took place last week in New Orleans. It was great for us to connect with our partners at Ewing Irrigation, who showcased many of our products in their booth, including our Boulevard wood tiles and VersiJack pedestal system.
Chris Lyon (right) with the Ewing Water Management Team
When the show traffic slowed some, we ducked out to the New Orleans Riverwalk Terrace (also known as the Spanish Plaza) to visit with Rotolo Consultants and discuss a problem that had come up on the project. Overall, the design (by Studio Outside) looks great.

Finally, we didn’t want you to miss out on what’s going on in our Hayward facility. While we might be busy working on your future projects, we are also having a little fun with our pumpkin carving contest. Anyone who follows us on Facebook has had the chance to vote for their favorites! Looks like the competition is fierce. Happy Halloween to you all!

 

A Fashionable & Efficient Vertical Garden

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The remodel need was obvious: Build a new fence that would screen the neighboring property. In addition, it needed to be a useful and aesthetic part of the back garden landscape while providing a water efficient and low maintenance place to grow fresh veggies and herbs.
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The solution from James Davidge at Davidge Design Studio: Install a Tournesol VGP living wall just in front of the fence. The wall was installed by setting three 6×6 redwood posts in concrete and then creating a frame of 2×4 & 2×6 redwood upon which the plastic grid was attached.
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“We installed separate posts and frame instead of just mounting to the new fence posts to make sure we avoided overloading the fence with the weight of the green wall.  We also ordered an extra plastic grid that we cut up and used on a diagonal to fill the gap between the green wall frame and the fence and hung the VGP from it.  We felt that this custom bit made a big impact on the way the wall ended up looking.”
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 The wall faces due south so it gets lots of sun throughout the day.  They found that the top rows were the first to dry out so they added emitters to the rows below to better control overall watering. Allowing for the differences, the pots were filled with a variety of succulents, tender herbs, veggies, and a variety of greens – such as red leaf, butter, romaine and other lettuces and fancy salad greens. Also, planted were 3 varieties of Kale and dwarf golden celery.
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In addition to the final visual effect, the VGP wall is it is easy to garden and installation is straightforward. Flexibility in layout and sizing for custom installations, easily removable pots and complete coverage once the plants grow in creates an eye-catching green wall that fits in well to the overall landscape composition. According to James, “It has become the focal point of the garden.”
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Recycling & Reuse – a day in Minnesota

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I had the opportunity this week to spend a day in the Twin Cities – a gorgeous fall day in the land of ten thousand lakes. Part of my reason for being there was to meet with our thermowood partner, Superior Thermowood. However, I was able to squeeze in several other activities while I was there.

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The day started out with a meeting at Wood from the Hood, a company that will be supplying us with urban wood for our Boulevard wood products. Owner Rick and Cindy Siewart have built a vibrant urban lumber business. Ten years ago they began collecting logs from trees felled in the City of Minneapolis, and have gradually expanded to accepting logs from homeowners and tree services from the entire Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Initially they milled the urban lumber and sold it to craftsmen and builders in the area. Over time they’ve expanded to create a series of consumer products made from the locally harvested wood. They are one of the few companies across the country that have managed to create a business in urban lumber – they deserve credit as true pioneers, and we look forward to continuing to support their efforts.

The portable saw mill at Wood from the Hood

The portable saw mill at Wood from the Hood

Wood from the Hood will be collecting ash logs from around the Twin Cities and rough milling them for us. Unfortunately, the Emerald Ash Borer has reached the area and municipalities are proactively removing ash trees to proactively deal with the problem. Wood from the Hood has been turning down many of these trees, as they didn’t have demand for the amount of material available. We’re extremely pleased that they have additional milling capacity, and look forward to converting it to thermally-modified Boulevard products.

Cutting a log on the portable sawmill

Cutting a log at Wood from the Hood

From there I headed over to the Recycling Assoc. of Minnesota/Solid Waste Assoc. of Nort America (SWANA – MN chapter) conference. We were on the agenda in the “Innovative Recycling and Reuse” session. I introduced the combination of thermal modification and urban wood as a way to reduce the demand for South American hardwoods, as well as upcycle trees that would otherwise be chipped or mulch. While most of the group had never heard of ipe, it wasn’t hard to convince the audience that we’re really onto something with the concept of Boulevard wood.ram

If you think recycling and waste removal is mundane, you should see some of the creative and forward thinking programs that were being discussed. One of the other speakers spearheaded a program at the Univ. of Minnesota that kept more than 100,000 lbs. of student end-of-the-year throwaways out of the landfill, distributing the usable material to non-profits in the Twin Cities. Another speaker discussed the educational programming they’ve created to teach recycling to the elementary- and middle-school crowd. These are topics that truly affect us all!

at the RAM/SWANA conference

Speaking at the RAM/SWANA conference

By the way, the topic of my presentation was “Wood, technology and doing the right thing”. If any group would like to hear the 20 minute presentation, either live or via the web, just drop me an email.

From our latest Email Blast – Renovations & Renewals

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This rooftop renovation just took a walk on the on the wild side! Pennsylvania Building Associates, owners of the property at 1275 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington D.C., needed to hide some mechanical units on their roof. Architect Hickok Cole suggested a green wall to create a decorative “screen.” Gregory Long ofCapitol Greenroofs (who took all the pictures here) worked and James Davis Construction to create this 42′ x 8′ free standing vegetated wall. The image below was taken midway through the summer, approx. 6 months after the initial installation.

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The wall, shown below several months after install, is comprised of 92 vegetatedVGM3-10 modules planted with a mixture of drought tolerant perennials including Heuchera americana, Coreopsis verticillata, Allium, Carex, Pholx and Sedum. Each module has 8″ of growing media, which will provide good insulation for both the cold winters and hot summers of Washington. Capitol Greenroofs opted to use Tournesol’s VGM Media Block on the front half of the module (the front 4″), which they commented allow for a better grow-in.

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The VGM modules were hung on the frame using  stainless steel mounting rails, and the the entire custom 4″ and 6″ tube steel support structure was mounted to the concrete roof deck. Capitol Greenroofs installed a fertigation system with a Dosatron injector and a 55 gal. barrel that holds water soluble fertilizer. The fertilizer, by Plantex Solutions, is 17-5-17 and contains several different micronutrients. The system is run off a Hunter controller, and each row of the living wall has a remote zone controller. While this is relatively complex, it points out the need to have an experienced professional collaborating in the design, and performing the installation and maintenance.

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Capitol Greenroofs also incorporated our FRP Wilshire pots along with CWM modular container irrigation system (seen to the left and to the right of the living wall) to create an instant oasis on the rooftop. Tournesol is proud of our ability to provide a “one-stop-shop” for both designers and contractors greening a rooftop.

 

From Coast to Coast

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Our partners, Tom and Sheila Boyce from DeepStream Designs, visited us from Florida last week. It was a great opportunity to show them our facility and give them a deeper understanding of our products and processes. While they were here, they shared with us images from one of their latest east coast Tournesol installations.

Movable fiberglass planters on casters at Rockerfeller Center by DeepStream Designs

Rockefeller Center’s Summer Garden

DeepStream Designs worked with Bob and Karen Hoffbauer of Julius Roehrs Co., and their client, Patina Group for this restaurant area located directly at Rockefeller Center.

Movable fiberglass planters on casters at Rockerfeller Center by DeepStream Designs

Our Wilshire Rectangles and Urban square planters were a perfect choice for this location – easily adding green to the urban environment and being able to stand up to the abuse of a heavily trafficked restaurant. Placing them on casters enabled easy and fast reconfiguration of the space – critical for this multi-purpose location!

Movable fiberglass planters on casters at Rockerfeller Center by DeepStream Designs

The Urban Collection is sleek, simple, elegantly proportioned and tapered to work with most modern designs. The Wilshire rectangles are a straight-walled product that when placed next to one another appears as a long continuous wall.  Both are available in FRP fiberglass and lightweight GFRC concrete, in a huge range of sizes and durable enough for most installations.

Movable fiberglass planters on casters at Rockerfeller Center by DeepStream DesignsWe’ve been working with DeepStream Designs for years, and appreciate them including us in this high profile location!