Tournesol Siteworks

It’s Tuesday – where am I??


Roofdecks at the CCDC project (using our planter liners), Washington DC

“Why do all the industry trade shows get stacked on top of one another?”, I found myself thinking after ten days on the road. The last six weeks have been full of travel & conferences – Bond MultiFamily (a meetup of architects & product manufacturers specializing in multi-family residential construction) in April, followed by the mid-year meeting of the Landscape Architecture Foundation in Washington DC in early May.  The photo above was taken of the CCDC project in Washington during the LAF meeting. We provided planter liners for the roofdeck gardens for this spectacular project – we’ll feature it in a blog post soon.

HD Expo

Visiting with designers at the HD Expo in Las Vegas – the South Chair in white, the Pillow Chair in orange

From there it was on to trade shows – Over the past two weeks we’ve exhibited at the American Institute of Architects National Convention (Atlanta), the Hospitality Design Expo (Las Vegas), the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (in New York with our partners from Luxxbox), and finally RECon (Las Vegas), the exhibition of the Intenational Council of Shopping Centers.

We met with well over 500 architects, interior designers, landscape architects and shopping center owners/managers.  There’s nothing like listening to your existing and potential customers – enlightening, to say the least.

hd expo linq

Viewing installed GFRC Urban Collection planters at the Linq, Las Vegas


Some of the highlights from the shows:

The South Chair and the Pillow Chair (see photo below). Both come in bright, interesting colors which grab designer’s attention. We knew that bright colors were in – but this confirmed it. While very different in execution, they herald our entrance into the cafe and casual furniture business.

Combine wood with brightly colored metal or concrete and people will notice it. Our Boulevard wood, whether in planters, furnishings or flooring, was the clear star of the show. The sustainable story, combined with its natural good looks makes it easy to get excited about.


Tournesol partner James Shaffer of Streetscapes with an architect in our booth at RECon – The South Chair in black and berry, the Pillow Chair in orange

We’ve traditionally found our “sweet spot” with landscape architects.  Nevertheless, architects have been showing greater interest in the range of products we offer – especially living walls, wood decking and pedestals, Wilshire Box hanging planters and VersiCell drainage panel.  Being at the AIA convention was a great experience this year.

A surprise from this series of shows was the number of commercial interior designers that actively specify products in our markets. We met several that have specified us in the past (especially in the hospitality business), and most really like the work we do. It was a great reminder that our reach is sometimes greater than we think!


Checking out the recent installation of Brisbane benches featuring Boulevard wood near Las Vegas

Taking it on the Road – from our May email blast

With the additions to cafe and casual furniture line and the enthusiasm for our Boulevard Wood products, our sales staff is being kept busy this month making sure that we are where you are!

HD Expo – A Hospitality Design Event
May 13-15, Las Vegas

To kick things off, John DenmanJon Willingham and Chris Lyon will be exhibiting at the HD Expo (Booth #1333) at the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, May 13-15. We will be featuring theSouth Chair by our Australian Design partner, Luxxbox as well as our new Boulevard Wood planters


AIA Convention
​May 14-16, Atlanta
Regional Sales Representatives Brian Mitalo (Midwest/Southeast) and Cliff Goodman(Northeast/Mid-Atlantic) will be manning booth #838 at this year’s AIA Convention. It has been a few years since we attended this conference, but we are encouraged by the response to our ads in ArchRecord (we were on the short list for best ad award) and our outreach to the architecture community.
International Contemporary Furniture Fair
May 16 – 19, New York
Chris will be following up the HD Expo with a trip to New York for the International Contemporary Furniture Fair. Jason Bird from Luxxboxx will be exhibiting at the Fair, showcasing his contemporary furniture line that we’ve begun carrying, like the South and Pillow Chairs.
​May 17 – 20, Las Vegas
We will wrap up the month back in Las Vegas, May 17-20 for the ICSC RECon Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. RECon is the global convention of the shopping center industry. Chris, John and Jon will be joined by David Shaw, the president of our partners at Street & Garden Furniture of Australia. We’re looking forward to introducing Street & Gardens’ newest product, the Yarrabilba Bench. We’ll be in booth #N1834 in the products section of the show. Be sure to stop by and see our products specifically targeting the Shopping Center community.

A Designer’s Delight: Our New Cafe & Casual Furniture Category

As we’ve been introducing site furnishings into our lineup, designers keep asking for more – more mobile, more fun, more casual!  We dipped our toe into the water last year with theBase Collection table and stools, but now that we’ve joined in partnership with Luxxbox of Brisbane, Australia, we’re diving in the deep end!


In addition to the cool Buzz Bike Bench and the enigmatic Rune lounge, Luxxbox features a range of stools, tables, benches and casual furniture. Head designer Jason Bird creates using bright, fun colors in lightweight materials, engineered for commercial-grade use. Their product provides a whole new dimension to our range, giving us more solutions for rooftop spaces in any kind of installation.


The South Chair (shown above) recently was a finalist for the NYC Battery Conservancy’s  “Draw up a Chair” competition.


Brisbane’s design scene is on the upswing – Jason and Luxxbox were recently featured in a fantastic article in Travel & Leisure magazine. Read the entire article about the design scene down under here.

Boulevard decking at home…

A recent trip so SoCal found us at the LA Expo in Long Beach, not far from one of our early installations of Boulevard Wood decking. It’s a private residence that belongs to friends of Grace Sullano of Place. The sustainability of Boulevard decking was a real draw for Grace and her friends.  Because we were close, we stopped by the owner’s home to find out whether we could take a few pictures of their home. While at first surprised to find us on their doorstep, the owners (and their children) graciously invited us in to see the results.

416 Roswell 3

Boulevard Wood decking is made thermally-modified, domestically harvested  and processed ash. It’s treated with high-temperature and steam – no chemicals or plastics – to create a 100% natural product with a 25+ year life span and Class A fire rating.  Through the process it takes on a natural, rich dark color, making it directly comparable with tropical hardwoods like Ipe or Teak, without the environmental baggage. The decking here has been sealed, so doesn’t show the typical gray patina that develops when exposed to the elements.

Mobile upload from Jon Willingham at 31315, 309 PM

Boulevard decking is 50% lighter and far easy to modify and work with on site than tropical hardwoods. All Boulevard wood is 100% free of the arsenic, copper, chrome and other hazardous metals present in pressure-treated wood.  It’s available in 1×4, 1×6, 5/4×4 and 5/4×6 conventional decking planks, as well as in dimensional lumber sizes.

Mobile upload from Jon Willingham at 31315, 311 PM

To see the full story of where our wood comes from, click here:

416 Roswell 5

Pinkberry, clad in green!

We recently became involved with the Avalon development in Alpharetta, GA, providing them with our VGP living wall system. From the Avalon website:  “It’s located in the heart of Alpharetta.  It is a sustainably designed, 86-acre development with more than 500,000 square feet of retail, a 12-screen all premium theater, a full-service hotel (coming in Phase II), Class A office, single-family residences and luxury rental homes. It infuses resort-level hospitality throughout a walkable, seamlessly connected community of shopping, dining, entertainment, living and working. It’s more than just another place to go, it’s a place to be—a hub of local art and activity that delivers the luxury of the modern South.”

All photos are courtesy of our friends at, based in Alpharetta. Join them at the Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2015: Connecting the Planet + Living Architecture on April 6-12.


Cool greenroof on Chicago Bulls’ Practice Facility


This past year we worked with Christy Webber Landscapes in Chicago when they did the greenroof on the Advocate Center, the new Chicago Bulls Practice Facility. Chicago remains at the front of the pack in the green roof race, so it wasn’t too surprising that the team went to the effort of putting an extensive greenroof on the building.


Christy Webber purchased the product through our local distributor, Lake Street Supply, who also provided several of the other elements on the project. We supplied 72″ squares, 120″x30″x30″, 96″x30″x30″, and 72″x30″x30″ rectangles. The lightweight fiberglass pots framed the outdoor seating area that turns the greenroof from a functional element to a attractive outdoor recreation space.

DSC_3172This is a pretty typical use of our lightweight FRP planters for a rooftop amenity space. Most of the clients, however, aren’t as famous as this one.


Where Boulevard Wood starts…


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…


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.


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.


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.


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

Children’s Healing Garden 
Cleveland, OH
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.
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.

A “Power” Play

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.


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.


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

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.”


 • 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.