Where Boulevard Wood starts…

Share this post:

IMG_2576

I found myself this week with our partners at Superior Thermowood in Central Minnesota. They’re located in beautiful Central Minnesota, where there are more vacation homes than full-time residents. We’re continuing to expand the amount of Boulevard thermally-modified wood in our product line, and I was here to do some start-of-the-year planning.  I thought I’d take a few pictures and document where our wood comes from…

IMG_2561

This is where it starts. This is at our vendor Savanna Pallet. At their peak, they store over 15,000 cords of wood on site. They typically use the lowest grades of logs to make their pallets, and take the clear, select red oak (the good stuff!) and mill it for us. They have a highly automated sawmill, processing thousands of board feet of wood every day. I was quite impressed. They are a family-run business, and one of the few FSC certified processors in the area. We’re lucky to be working with them.

IMG_2517

Meet John and Ed.  John, on the right, is the owner of Superior. He’s pretty single-minded in his dedication for expanding the market for thermally modified wood. Ed, to the left, is the teams official “pilot”. When there’s wood to be stacked, he’s the one to pile it!! Superior’s operation is a combination of automated and old-fashioned manual labor. Until you’ve been around it, it’s hard to understand the amount of work that goes into processing wood.

IMG_2519

This is a load of ash, about to go into the thermal-modification kiln. The wood actually starts out in a more conventional drying kiln, going from green wood down to 10-12% moisture content. This takes about 2-4 weeks, depending upon the starting moisture. The wood is pre-cut to a size that will allow for some shrinkage before it is kilned twice. The thermal-modification kiln is a computer controlled process that mixes hot air, steam, and reciprocating airflow. The temperature and moisture level of the wood is carefully monitored, and follows a proven “recipe” to get to the Boulevard wood product.

IMG_2496

Once removed from the kiln, the wood is milled to its final size. In this case, the red oak has been cut into slats for our structural wood tiles. The wood will be cut to length, then assembled into a tile.  The whole process is 100% American. Other thermally-modified products start with domestic wood, which is shipped to an oversea location, modified and then sent back to the U.S.  We’re proud that we use nothing but FSC-managed wood sources, made right here in Minnesota.

IMG_2565Boulevard wood is the next important material for Tournesol Siteworks. The 25+ year resistance to rot and decay, combined with the moisture stability and awesome dark color make it the right solution for commercial construction products. We’re proud to be on the edge of the sustainable wood trend.

 

 

A Healing Garden

Share this post:
Children’s Healing Garden 
Cleveland, OH
photo_4_(8)-1
The term healing gardens is most often applied to green spaces in healthcare facilities that specifically aim to improve health outcomes. These gardens provide a place of refuge and promote healing in patients, families, and staff. According to leaders in this field, healing comes from the garden’s ability to promote relief from symptoms, stress reduction and improvement in overall sense of well-being and hopefulness. Any environment can promote healing, but gardens are particularly able to do so because humans are hard-wired to find nature engrossing and soothing.
photo_2_(7)-1
This particular garden was spearheaded by architects Stanley Beaman and Sears of Atlanta. Regional Salesperson Brian Mitalo assisted them with the basic design, and they engaged local landscape architects Visionscape to help with the horticultural design. Steve Lukasik of Wolf Creek Company (a local irrigation design/distributor) helped design the irrigation plan. It was a full team effort – with a stunning result.
photo_1_(10)-1

A “Power” Play

Share this post:

SCE (Southern California Edison) is the primary electricity supply company for much of Southern California. It provides 14 million people with electricity across a service territory of approximately 50,000 square miles. The SCE GO1 Headquarters Building in Rosemead, CA is not only a vastly important building, but after 43 years, one that was also in need of an update.

DSC_0708

The project encompassed a 1 acre podium renovation of landscape, hardscape and furnishings. Landscape architect Liz Greene of Richard Price and Associates Landscape Architecture  came to Tournesol Siteworks to assist with the project. They chose our Urban Collection, in both squares and rectangles, as the major focus of the courtyard remodel.

DSC_0703

According to Liz, ‘”the age of the building and size created some challenges. Working with such a large scale and a half-century year old infrastructure guided many of our design decisions.” The size options of the Urban Collection allowed for the planting of large olive trees which complimented the scale of the courtyard. The collection is produced in both lightweight fiberglass and GFRC concrete to accommodate the larger sizes. “Sleek, simple and elegantly proportioned” the Urban Collection also help set a more contemporary mood.

DSC_0700It is always exciting to see how pots and planters can revitalize an area and bring landscape to a hardscape environment.

The Final Few of our Favorite things… 2014

Share this post:

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 •

1200 W Madison--Chicago 102814 2

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.”

4

 • 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.

IMG_2948_lo

 

 

Favorite Things

Share this post:

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.

e_Blast_DTD_Anaheim_7_head

• 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.

Boulevard_Deck_with_Bench_2lo

• 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.

CEE Living Wall

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.

100_2029

ASLA 2014 – Highlights from the floor

Share this post:

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.

IMG_2261

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

Share this post:

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!

IMG_2203

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).

IMG_2208

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!

IMG_2234

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

Share this post:

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

IMG_4702

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!

IMG_4707

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.

IMG_4705

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.

IMG_4711

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

Share this post:
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

Share this post:
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.
IMG_5370
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.
IMG_5250
“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.”
IMG_3223
 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.
IMG_6175
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.”
IMG_6180