Category Archives: Container Irrigation Systems

A lightning-fast upgrade: First Street, Downtown Phoenix

The City of Phoenix recently spent over a half-million dollars on street improvements, decorative sidewalks, new trees and pedestrian-friendly upgrades along First Street in downtown. The goal was to make the area more pedestrian friendly and inviting to convention attendees and tourists.firststreet3*304

The First Street road and sidewalk improvements run from Washington to Moreland Street and include 86 of our SeaCrest Series planters with built-in container irrigation. A similar quantity of pots was required for a different streetscape area as well. The SeaCrest Series is made differently than most other collections we feature here – they are rotationally molded of linear low-density polyethylene plastic (instead of FRP fiberglass or GFRC concrete). This allows us to make the SeaCrest as a double-wall unit, and integrate the self-watering system.

IMG_2674The city contractor who contacted us wasn’t specifically looking for the SeaCrest Series pots.  Instead, they approached us with a very tight deadline to get pots into place. Because a project of this size is made to order, and the FRP and GFRC process is relatively slow (one pot per mold per day), we needed a solution that could be turned around faster. When rotationally molding, we can make up to 5-6 pieces per day. The throughput of the process allowed us to get the project done on time.

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We also had to custom blend the material to match our painted apple color. There are two different ways to match colors in plastic – use an integrally colored base material, or “dry blend” pigment in with naturally translucent base material. The nature of the exposure, abuse, longevity and color consistency demanded we use the more time- and cost-intensive integrally colored material. We received the order on the 10th of the September, and were able to ship the entire project within 30 days – thanks to our hardworking manufacturing team.

The transformation must have helped – First Street has been transformed  into a pedestrian promenade that celebrates food and art in the desert during their Feast on the Street.

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The day that we were taking the pictures happened to coincide with watering day. Given that the city had paid for the benefit of our unparalled container irrigation system, we were curious to see if they were using it. Answer: No.  The young man (below) uses the browse head to water the plants, ignoring the tamper resistant stopper and the reservoir. It is one of the more frustrating parts of our business – you can lead a horse to water, but you just can’t make them drink.  This probably could be laid at our door – maybe we didn’t do enough to train them on the use of the system. Nevertheless, the watering system is tailor-made for a place like Phoenix, and it seems a waste that it isn’t being used.

At least the product design delivers value. The double-wall provides insulation for the plants from the hot desert air, and the durable plastic will hold up to anything that the street throws at it. We were glad to help the city when they needed the material, and pleased it looks so good!

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Checking in on the Miracle Mile

In 2010, we gave you a first-look at 5550 Wilshire Blvd., in the heart of Los Angeles’ Miracle Mile. With over 180 pots, in both GFRC and FRP fiberglass, as well as container irrigation it was one of our largest projects at that time.

100_0602It is a mixed use project, with retail on the bottom floor and condominiums above. The designer had originally called for our FRP fiberglass pots throughout the entire job; however, since we could offer the same container with the same finish in multiple materials, it was decided that the pots on the streetscape would be the more durable lightweight concrete, and the interior and on-structure pots would remain fiberglass. Our regional salesperson Jon Willingham visited the project recently and took a few photos. Four years later, both types of pots are still looking great!

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Many of the spectacular tree plantings in the photos used palms in 48″ squares, as shown below. The finishes in both FRP and GFRC were painted, so they would be easy to touch up and repair as necessary. So far additional maintenance as been kept to a minimum, and the planters have stood up well to the high-traffic street side abuse!

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Additionally, each of the pots was outfitted with a CWM Modular container irrigation reservoir for minimal maintenance – the plants are thriving!

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We love to be able to revisit projects like this, and find out that our product is still looking great. We strive for a superior results for our customers – that’s what keeps them coming back to us. Thanks to ParkWest Landscape who installed the project, designed by Valleycrest Design Group of Orange County for Legacy Partners. It is tribute to all involved that this projects continues to shine in L.A.

 

Customize it!

Wilshire Collection Rectangles, made in FRP fiberglass, are our most popular planter. They are most commonly used in applications like the one shown at 120 Howard St. in San Francisco below. This installation, owned by the Shorenstein Company and installed by our good friends at Allbay Landscape, was completed in 2012 when the building, originally constructed in 1972, underwent a major facelift.

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One of the biggest benefits to our customers is that we always have a lot of rectangles in inventory. The owner decided to add these as a component of LEED certification, and there wasn’t a lot of time to get them delivered. We had most of the material in inventory, and could produce the order quickly – which, in this case, meant 40 planters (8′, 4′ and 36″ square) on site in 3-4 weeks. We will always do our best to meet your deadline!

IMG_4216Our ability to customize product for our clients is another of the exceptional advantages of working with us that doesn’t get much “press.” To us, it’s just part of working with the specifier community, but to our customers it can be the best possible answer to a vexing concern.

We ran into that situation at the Joseph Arnold Lofts in Seattle, a premium, modern loft apartment building situated in one of the city’s most desirable residential locations; boasting unobstructed water and city views with sophisticated apartment living. 

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You can see from the image above that they used our Wilshire Collection rectangles to add landscape to the entrance of the building, a very common usage. The challenge here, as designed by The Berger Partnership and installed by Green Effects, was that it was on a dramatic slope and had irregular access.  They wanted a planter to define the diagonal walkway from the driveway. We had to create a custom FRP planter with a 46° angle wall. Because we were pressed on time for this project, our tooling team figured out how to create both parts from one somewhat complicated tool.  It was a creative solution that saved a few extra days in tooling and casting!

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Unusual, but still pretty straight forward.

We’re in the process of fabricating a custom solution for the multi-family residential building at 2300 Harrison St. in San Francisco, designed by landscape architects Van Dorn Abed. In addition to a number of our standard Aquarian Collection planters, designer Whitney Miller came up with a “wave planter” design, which features 5 different pots to create a highly unique element. Again, what could have been a leadtime nightmare was turned into a huge save by our tooling group, who were able to modify each mold after the necessary parts were cast. Here are the elements, waiting to be painted yesterday.

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We joke around here that we’ve never seen an architect design the same building twice – which is why we see so many customizations. Seriously, we consider custom capabilities a core strength, and will continue to suggest creative ways to allow the designer to express their vision.

In case you missed it… March 2014 Email blast – Vol. 2 Issue 4

 

It’s been a busy spring at Tournesol Siteworks, as we know it is for many of our customers, vendors and peers.  We’re all thrilled to see the activity of the market. As the weather starts to warm throughout the East Coast and Midwest, contractor’s thoughts turn to their summer schedule – and our phone starts ringing!

We’re adding inventory, scheduling additional shifts, and starting to hire – our typical spring routine. In fact, we’ve just added a new Inside Sales person, Troy Nottingham. He’s supporting our western regions, and is quickly coming up to speed. There’s a lot to learn! Make sure you say welcome if you have to chance to speak with him on the phone. 

Tournesol Hits the Indian Sub-Continent

One of our most important vendors is our Indian manufacturing partner, Jamunaplast. Since 1999, when they started molding several small plastic and rubber articles, we’ve come to rely on them to produce most of our irrigation components, many green wall and roof components , and now started casting blanks of many of our FRP fiberglass pots . They are located in a suburb just outside of Mumbai. After 15 years of making products for the U.S., they proposed that we work together to address the growing commercial landscape market in India.

 

 

 

The market for commercial landscape products in India is intriguing – still relatively small, but rapidly gaining speed. There aren’t many manufacturers that provide commercial-quality products, targeted at the more sophisticated end of the design market. While Tournesol Siteworks India will initially be selling the products that Jamunaplast manufactures for TSW-US, the intention will be to introduce products specifically targeted to the Indian design community’s requirements.

More specifically, there has been significant interest in Tournesol’s self-watering container irrigation systems . The customers in Mumbai and elsewhere appreciate the water conservation aspect of the system. We expect that product to help build a foundation for the company there, as it did for us here in the U.S. Look out for more updates in the future on our progress.

Starbucks Living Wall – Downtown Disney
This past August, the Disney Corporation announced that Starbucks would be opening a store in the  Downtown Disney District .   As this is their first location in the Disneyland Resort, the client wanted something particularly eye-catching at what is sure to be one of the busiest spots “downtown.” It’s right outside the exit of the huge World of Disney store.

Architects Orange  and  LandStudio 360  with David Ling,  conceived of a green wall that would create a visually interesting  backdrop to the outdoor seating area. We at Tournesol Siteworks were thrilled to be a player in this high profile installation as our  VGM system  was the perfect solution. David was kind enough to provide us with the amazing photo below.

 

 

In this case the stainless steel vertical hanging rails were mounted onto horizontal uni-strut framing. This framing, attached to the tube-steel substructure, allows for flexibility when aligning the hanging rail. They used our VGM3-06 wiht a 4″ soil profile, typical for warm-weather climates. The modules were shipped to the job site after 3 months of grow-in at Instant Jungle’s nursery in Santa Ana. They also pre-assemble irrigation emitters and tubing into the module, so they can quickly be attached to the main irrigation system once hung on the rails.

 

 

 

TWIG – Made in California since 2011

The TWIG bench was the first in a line of innovative products introduced by Tournesol Siteworks from the design studios of Street & Garden Furniture of Brisbane, Australia. Long a leading manufacturer down under, Tournesol is proud to have brought their fresh design perspective to the USA, manufacturing their product in California. TWIG is a highly configurable modular seating system which promotes social interaction and a casual lifestyle. We love this item so much it evens graces the cover of our new catalog!

Having marketed the product since 2011, we’re really now starting to see projects come to life. Recently, there has been some confusion with TWIG, and we want to set the record straight. Tournesol continues to promote, manufacture, and sell the TWIG bench. We make TWIG from lightweight GFRC concrete in Northern California. Each bench weighs only 700lbs, contributing to a low environmental footprint, both in terms of material content and shipping.

Confused about several manufacturers offering TWIG? See more details here.

 

 

A refresh for the Towers

The Pasadena Towers are twin nine-story buildings offering 477,000 square feet of office space. Its Beaux-Artes architecture, copper mansard roofs and hand-painted murals make this an exceptionally unique property located in the heart of Pasadena’s financial district.

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Recently, the property owners asked the property management team, Jones Lang Lasalle, to update this premier facility. JLL contacted Melendrez, a Los Angeles -based landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm, to create the new vision. With the assistance of  Enzo Caserta Landscaping and Tournesol Siteworks, they have done a masterful job creating a very modern work space.  The project is such a showpiece for us we’ve featured much of it in our newest catalog.

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Melendrez used a nice blend of our Wilshire Rectangles in metal-infused aged Bronze and the Downtown Collection in smoke and colonial. The Downtown Collection was a great choice as the combination of conventional tall rounds paired with low bowls allowed for a variety of plants and looks in different spots through the project.

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Further in the instillation, our new Aquarian pots, in a Royalty finish added a unique vertical color splash in selected locations.  All the pots were sealed and water-tight, with our DR pump-out draingage system and the manual fill CWM sub-irrigation. This keeps the area around the pots clean. Our irrigation products contribute to water conservation, labor efficiency and healthier plants. The tall Aquarian planters in conjunction with the elegant straight walls of the Wilshire rectangles make a strong statement.

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Projects as extensive as this don’t always go in without some complications, and this one was no exception. We had several issues, mostly with waterproofing that failed shortly after installation. We appreciate the coordination of Enzo Caserta’s team, and the property manager Jones Lang Lasalle in allowing us to work out the problems. We’re the first ones to admit that not everything goes in as planned – but that we’ll be there to make sure that it’s right by the customer in the end!

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 All in all, we are thrilled to be part of this rejuvenation of a premium office space and a chance to showcase the pots, planters and irrigation that Tournesol Siteworks has been producing for 35 years.

 

Partnerships – from our Feb. email blast

The first few months of 2014 have found us involved in quite a few conferences, workshops, training and sales meetings.  It’s great to be out contributing to these events. Our business, and just as importantly, our industry benefits from these valuable partnerships.

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Our year always starts off in Boston. Regional Sales Representative Brian Mitalo braved the polar vortex to attend New England Grows in collaborations with our local partner BISCO . It’s a great event that always sets the tone for the year. Not only do we get the chance to educate the local landscape community about what’s new, we also get to check the pulse on the New England market – find out who’s doing what! With heavy snow on day one, most contractors were out plowing – but day two turned out great. Boston is excited for our new Boulevard Wood Tiles !

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We were graciously invited again this year to our long-time distribution partner Ewing Irrigationfor their Employee Development Leadership Conference. This year they made it a trade show format, and close to 40 vendors attended this continuing education program for their staff. It was a great opportunity to share our new VGP tray-based living wall system and Root Solutions root barrier product with them. It was quite an event – they made sure each person visted every booth (over 300 people in all).

Just last week we were invited by Valleycrest Landcape Development , one of the largest landscape companies in the world, to present at their Chief Estimator’s Summit. We were in exclusive company – one of just a few companies invited. While we always enjoy sharing our products and experience, this was a great learning experience for us as well. Regional Sales Representative Jon Willingham and Chris Lyon were able to spend time and get the unique perspective that they have to the market.

Speaking of partnerships, we’ve had a great one going over the years with Brigham Young University . For almost 20 years, we have worked with Bruce Maw, the Landscape Architect for the university, on major  projects  and architectural revisions to their magnificent campus in the Utah Valley. With nearly 640 acres under his purview, he has the drive  to create unique spaces throughout the campus, and we are honored to be able  to help him achieve his vision.

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During a recent visit to the campus, we noticed that our Craftsman Collection  were used in their new visitors center. The metal infused, “hand-hammered” copper mimics the intent of arts-and-craft master, Dirk van Erp, on whose work the collection was based. Prior to this installation, our aluminum metal-infused Wilshire planters were used at the expansion of the Marriott School of Management building.

Next up is the new Life Sciences building. Tournesol Siteworks will be providing a number of planters to be used on the rooftop level.  The $950-million dollar project is due to open in the fall of 2014, and will represent a new anchor to southern end of the campus with 265,000 feet of classroom, state-of-the-art lab facilities, auditorium and atrium. We’ve worked with Bruce and his staff for a long time, and we’re always excited when an opportunity like this happens on campus.

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Our 2014 Lookbook & Catalog dropped on Feb 12.  Not to be missed is one of our favorite fresh items  – The Harlie Collection planter. Sticking with our theme of partnerships, this planter comes to us by way of our new collaboration with Australian designer,  Luxxbox . This faceted shape draws on gemology and mathematical principles with a playful edge.

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Altogether, the catalog features over 20 new products and all our product categories – Site Furnishings, Pots & Planters, Deck & Paver Supports, Green Walls & Roofs, Container Irrigation and Root Control & Drainage.  You also find technical information, complete product listings, material finishes and gorgeous installation images. If you missed out on receiving one, please send us an emailcatalog@tournesolsiteworks.com. Alternately, you can download a copy  tournesolsiteworks.com/uploads/cmsfiles/Tournesol_Siteworks_2014.pdf .

In addition, we encourage you to look for our ad placements with media partners, Landscape Architecture  and Architectural Record . Each month we  highlight a unique product, and invite you to “explore your options” with Tournesol Siteworks.

 

Growing in the snow

Over 10 inches of snow fell around Boston in the past two days, but things are still growing at the New England Grows Show (www.newenglandgrows.org).

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It’s a great event that addresses landscape construction and maintenance companies. Tournesol Siteworks has been in attendance for the last 5 years in collaboration with our local partner BISCO. We always enjoy our participation as it gives us a chance to catch up on the New England market and activities of local customers.

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This year we have been getting a lot of positive comments on our “deck” made of our new Boulevard Structural Wood Tiles, SpiraPave supports and VersiJack pedestals. The thermally treated FSC-certified hardwoods are also available in benches and tables (the Sydney Bench with Boulevard Wood is shown to the right above).

If you haven’t heard the story: Boulevard wood is made of red oak and ash, harvested and treated in a special high-temperature kiln in northern Minnesota. This natural process changes the chemical make-up of the wood, creating a gorgeous dark lumber that has 25-year durability against rot, pest and decay. The Boulevard lumber is 50% lighter than ipe, and is also available in conventional decking boards.

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Of course, attendees to the show have also been stopping and asking us about our planters and irrigation systems – both cornerstones of Tournesol’s and Bisco’s product line over the years.

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The show runs Wednesday, Feb. 5 thru Friday, Feb 7 in Boston at the Convention Center, home of the 2013 ASLA show. A special thanks to the attendees who made an effort to get here despite the wintery weather, especially since many of them were the ones responsible for helping to clear the snow, salt the streets and make the local cities and towns safe for the rest of us!

 

 

LPA Inc. opens a new office in San Jose (with Tournesol pots!)

Sustainable design architecture firm LPA Inc. just opened an office in downtown San Jose, CA.  It joins their main office in Irvine, and offices in Roseville (CA) and San Diego. They brought a pretty creative approach to converting a downtown retail space to their new offices.

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They didn’t bother to build up an entire conference room in the space – instead, they segregated the area (off to the right in the image above) with two Wilshire Rectangles (WR-721824 in white FRP). The pots appear in nearly all the images that they take of the public space – they make a great backdrop! Each pot contains three CWI-1650 self-watering container irrigation inserts to make taking care of the plants easy. How do you know what the best self-watering system is out here? Ask the designers what they use themselves!

They sent through a link to this video – just watch for the two white FRP pots in the background…

We received the following note from the associate who coordinated the build-out (from the Irvine HQ):

You have all been instrumental to the success of the project and I could not have picked a better team to produce this high quality of work. Thanks again for all your dedication and bending over backwards when the moment called for your best work.

We were glad to be a part of it. We’re already in working with the designers on new projects already!

Continued Growth with our Living Walls

Our living green wall systems continue to grow all over the U.S., including SoCa 2014!

EPT Design  has specified 220 VGM modules to be installed June of 2014 at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices Antelope Valley. Thanks to  Valley Crest, which we know will do another great installation of this product and to  Instant Jungle  for growing in the plant product.  

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Antelope Valley (named for the herds of Pronghorn that were found here in the 1830’s), is the gateway to the western Mojave Desert.  The average temperature here is 61 deg, but that disguises lows down to 2 deg and highs up to 110 deg. It’s a dry heat, though, with low humidity year round. Due to the weather variance, this will be a challenging project and a testament to our 8″ deep VGM3-10 module . With the generous soil profile, root growth isn’t restricted to baffles or pockets, which will mean lower maintenance, less water usage and healthier plants.

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Azalea South Gate  is an exciting, one-of-a-kind project for the South Gate community of Los Angeles.  When completed the project will include national anchor tenants, local retail, restaurants and several living walls! Specified by Conceptual Design & Planning Company , the project is to be installed in phases in conjunction with the overall construction by  KPRS Builders. The VGM3-06 modules are being grown in (again!) at Instant Jungle  with a spectacular  plant palette chosen by the team at CDPC headed up by Jennifer Frederick. The grow-in will take 1-3 months in the modules before they are shipped individually to the job site where they will be assembled and hung.

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We are particularly proud of this installation as the 32-acre project replaces a current vacant site with a modern shopping center. The final plans include water features, an open plaza for community gatherings, wi-fi, and incorporates green initiatives and environmentally-friendly products.

New for 2014 – A nod to the Knickerbocker

As we continue to look at new projects for 2014, we must recognize Time Square’s Knickerbocker Hotel. An historic Beaux-Arts building build by John Jacob Astor IV in 1906, it is currently being restored to its former glory, thanks to a $115 million makeover by new owners, FelCor Lodging Trust . The all-new Knickerbocker is slated to open in mid-2014, and it has just been accepted into The Leading Hotels of the World fold. Architect Peter Poon and Designer Gabellini Sheppard have taken the interior down to the floor plates, so it will essentially be a “brand new hotel”, except for its extraordinary, original Beaux-Arts facade, which will be preserved. A NYC landmark since 1988, the building had functioned as an office building since the 1980’s but was better known for hosting such guests as John D. Rockefeller, had its own subway entrance, and is thought to have been the birthplace of the original martini!

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Tournesol Siteworks is excited to be part of this historical restoration per the specification of Landscape  Architect, M. Paul Freidberg and Partners  of  Manhattan.   As part of this massive renovation, the Penthouse Suite will have an amazing living wall featuring our VGM modular living wall  system. As of late December, Tournesol had shipped over 500 of the 8″ deep VGM3-10 modules, which are slated to be installed on three of the exterior walls. Installation contractor,  Blondie’s Treehouse , is responsible for the module planting, grow-in and irrigation installation.

knickerbocker-hotel-construction-6-2013-thumbWhen completed, the Knickerbocker will fulfill its original purpose, and welcome back guests to over 300 guest rooms and 40 suites including the spectacular penthouse. Keep an eye out for pictures of the finished installation at 42nd & Broadway!