A lightning-fast upgrade: First Street, Downtown Phoenix

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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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Root Solutions, Revisited

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kaiser root barrier 6We acquired the Root Solutions root barrier business from Vespro of California nearly a year ago, and thought we’d give you an update on what’s going on with the business. A large Bay Area contractor, Jensen Landscape, was recently installing the product at the new Kaiser Permanente Hospital complex in Redwood City, and invited us in to take some pictures. They were kind enough to leave several trenches open to allow us to photograph the product in its natural environment.

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Root barrier continues to be an important product. The eventual cost of tree roots damaging parking lots, sidewalks, and roads has made it universally-specified product for highway departments, municipalities, and commercial properties. We even hear of it being put in for many large residential developments – the minimal cost of the product saves thousands of dollars in headaches over time. Our biggest surprise in entering the market is that its use is more prevalent west of the Mississippi than to the east.

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We’ve learned a lot about extrusion and manufacturing the product, as you might have guessed. Despite a few hiccups, we’re in control of the process, sourcing the 100% recycled polyethylene, and keeping production line running. One of the important things that we’ve mastered is the blend of high density and low density polyethylene. It’s critical to make the material supple enough to be easy to install, yet strong enough to resist tree roots.

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Nearly all the contractors we work with tell us that it is easier to work with than other comparable products – it slips together easier, holds better, and flexes when it needs to. Not only is it the best product out there, we’ve been working on making sure that it is highly competitive as well. We’ve been able to creatively source the recycled material, and can make the product as affordably as anyone.

kaiser root barrier 1Two distributors that came on board along with the Vespro purchase, Universal Enterprises Supply of Pompano Beach, Florida and Exacta Sales of Hawaii have continued to do very well with the product. We’ve been pleased that we’re also selling now through two local Northern California stocking distributors, Imperial Sprinkler Supply (Livermore and Santa Clara) and Horizon (9 locations). We’re adding more distribution points all the time- our distributors find it easy (and inexpensive) to bring in pallets of root barrier along with their planter orders. Ask your Tournesol Siteworks distributor today – you’ll find the best product at the best price in the market!

 

In case you missed our May email – Tournesol in the News

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May 2014 – Vol. 2 Issue 6

VGM Living Wall Spotted in San Diego Magazine

San Digeo Magazine recently focused in on our green wall at PureFitness Westgate Hotel in San Diego. The full design is a world-class sports complex with four levels, 37,000 square feet and a panoramic Sky-Deck. This state of the art facility offers a Jr. Olympic sized pool, lounge, basketball court, rubberized surface running track, and outdoor workout area. 

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The design by the Hollander Design Group was created to add visual impact and separate the lounging area from the sports deck. Our good friend, Jim Mumford at Good Earth Plant Company and GreenScaped Buildings used 1300 plants to give the living wall texture. “The composition features four types of grasses including Mexican feather grass and blue fescue, and seven types of succulents.” Our VGM Green Wall system is uniquely engineered to handle these types of installations. The generous planting profile (4-8″) encourages healthier plant growth with lower maintenance issues. The recycled plastic planting modules can be grown in prior to mounting and then provide instant, complete coverage of any vertical surface.purefitness

LA Times features Tournesol collaborator, Luxxbox

Congratulations to our partner, Luxxbox! They had a great showing at WantedDesign in NYC, and got a fantastic response including the front page of the LA Times Home Section (read their story here.) 

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At this up and coming event, Jason Bird showcased his new designs; The k-base from his cafe collection (above, coming soon to Tournesol Siteworks), The South Chair (below), Pillow Stool and the ever popular Buzz Bike Bench. The South Chair has made it through to the Top 5 in New York’s The Battery Conservancy’s ‘Draw Up a Chair’ Competition. Bird designed the chair to be a unique, contemporary form of outdoor movable seating. Featured in the New York Times, the South Chair is formed from an infinite tube look that seems to defy gravity. The chair has cleanliness with a study steel frame – versatile and lightweight. When not in use the chairs can stack (with a physical stop to prevent wedging.). The overall winner will be announced this fall and will be installed throughout Battery Park, and we look forward to providing this well-honored piece to our customers as well! 

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Tournesol’s ever-widening range of site furnishings offers a variety options that including benches cast in GFRC concrete, polyethylene and our new thermally modified North American hardwood called Boulevard Wood. We also are advancing our line of trash receptacles, bike bollards and furniture with the help of our design collaborators Street and Garden Furniture and Luxxbox.

And one of our favorites this month…

Azalea Regional Shopping Center is a 32-acre property located in South Gate, CA. The center features modern architecture with amenities such as a pop-jet fountain, recessed amphitheater and reflection pool. Almost completed, the project includes national anchor tenants, local retail, restaurants and several living walls! Specified by Conceptual Design & Planning Company , the project is being installed in phases by KPRS Builders. 

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The vertical green walls were designed to create ‘living art elements’ and are located on four of seven buildings throughout the plaza area.  These ‘living art walls’ were designed to wrap the buildings in several locations creating visual cues which lead users through a variety of spaces. The planting palette was selected to create consistency in the planting concept regardless of sun exposure.  The planting design consists of horizontal bands of succulents and grasses to create interest with color and texture. The green walls are complemented by the use reclaimed barnwood and corten steel elements on the architecture. The design team worked closely with the Primestor Development, Nadel Architects, Tournesol Siteworks and Instant Jungle to ensure seamless integration of the panels with the architecture.

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The 32-acre project replaces a current vacant site with a modern shopping center. In totality, this development includes water features, an open plaza for community gatherings, wi-fi, and incorporates green initiatives and environmentally-friendly products. It is intended to be LEED certified.

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Notes from our Production Staff

With the building season upon us, things are heating up at our manufacturing facility in Hayward. While we’re happy with the amount of business, it has put added pressure on our manufacturing team to meet our standard lead times. We have added staff, begun working two shifts and Saturdays, yet still our production times have crept out out by a week or two on many orders. Please make sure you check with your salesperson if you have a critical order approaching. We appreciate your deadlines and will do everything we can to make sure you get the same quality and service you have come to expect from Tournesol Siteworks.

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Want more information on Tournesol Siteworks?

 Please send us an email info@tournesolsiteworks.com   

Alternately, you can download a copy of our catalog at:

tournesolsiteworks.com/uploads/cmsfiles/Tournesol_Siteworks_2014.pdf.

 

 

 

Checking in on the Miracle Mile

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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!

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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.

Cincinnati Home & Garden

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Spring is here and so are the Home & Garden shows! Our friends at Green Streets Environmental Services were excited to be involved in this year’s Cincinnati Home & Garden Show.  As a founding partner in The Sustainability Partnership of Cincinnati (TSPC), they are a leader in green build and construction – from LEED and Passive Architecture through finished construction.

For his year’s conference, Green Streets and TSPC worked up a full sustainably-minded garden and eco house. The “Milky Way Garden and Star Powered Home” name given by partner Lohre & Associates of Cincinnati, was designed with input from all of the partners. “This has really helped spark imagination” said Tre Sheldon, one of the principles at Green Streets. 

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Filled with sustainable materials, and unique idea’s, the visitors could see solar panels, raised planters, green roofs, and living walls. The living wall used our VGM modular wall unit, and was designed and installed by Green Streets Environmental Services with special help from the West Hills Green Houses also of Cincinnati. “The versatility, durability, and design of Tournsol’s products are truly the very best on the market today” said Benjamin Haggerty of Green Streets. He went on to say “be it an interior or exterior application, we won’t work with any other supplier then Tournsol for Living Walls, there just isn’t anything better”. Thanks, Benjamin, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

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Since 1969, Cincinnati has welcomed Hart Productions Home & Garden show as a right of spring and a unique oasis that help’s shake off those winter blues. Tens of thousands come through annually to tour unique gardens and see the latest offerings and most innovative products from all over the world. Thanks to Green Streets for including Tournesol Siteworks this year!

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Reflections on 20

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Today Tournesol Siteworks is celebrating our 20th anniversary.

sunflowerAnyone who has spent twenty years doing something is bound to have a lot of conflicting emotions about it.  There have been plenty of good times, some tough ones, and everything in between.

Tournesol  Siteworks is no exception. In the beginning I figured we’d hit a home run with a remarkable self-watering product at retail, then sell the business once it had grown big after 5 years. When that didn’t happen (despite lots of efforts and a stint on the Home Shopping Network for me), plan B became to grow the business the hard way. I never considered walking away, although there were times when we probably should have!

In hindsight, I figure I got lucky.  I got to run a manufacturing business, which is always what I wanted to do. I never had a particular passion for landscape or plants, but 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 people who’ve shared in the experience of growing this company. I work with 50 people, most of whom (I think) are glad to be at work every day. 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 can really pick out those people that made an impact on who we are today. Some are still here, and others aren’t, but the business wouldn’t be the same without them.

Tomorrow looks better than ever. They say that it is much easier to grow a large business than a small one. We’ve been able to leverage what growth we’ve achieved, and invest it back in innovation, partnerships, and our customers. I’m as excited about the future as ever.  When I started out 20 years ago we had 8 employees – ten years later we had 11.  Today we have 50, and our plan is to continue to double in size every three years. We’re fortunate that the construction economy has come back, and we’re in the position to take advantage of it. We’ve reinvented ourselves several times over the years, and I’m sure that we’ll do it again a few times – but that’s just part of the fun.”

Thanks for joining us in celebrating our 20th year – Chris Lyon

The California TWIG

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In conjunction with Kilroy Realty Corporation and Landscape architects, Brumbaugh & Associates, Tournesol Siteworks appreciates the opportunity to be a part of another landmark office complex. Skyline Tower is a 24-story building located in Bellevue’s central business district near the transit center and neighboring pedestrian areas.

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Skyline Tower’s amenities include  impressive views of the Seattle skyline, Mt. Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains. It also offers a pedestrian friendly exterior plaza featuring our TWIG benches!

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Brumbaugh & Associates designed the exterior space and used 8 TWIG benches, in the color “Shark,” to provide not only seating, but visual interest to the area as well. TSW worked closely with the General Contractor, GLY,  in regards to production and delivery for an on-time installation for the grand opening of the plaza and its easy access to Bellevue Square.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.