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.

 

 

A refresh for the Towers

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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.

 

Disney, Starbucks and us

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It is always fun to work on a unique one-of-a-kind project, and what better place than in the land “where dreams come true” – Disneyland! This past August, the Disney Corporation proudly announced that Starbucks would be opening a location in the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort.

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The client wanted something unique at their location, which is sure to be one of the busiest spots in the “downtown.” Architects Orange and LandStudio 360 with David Ling, were tasked to bring that unique element to this specific Starbucks store, and Tournesol Siteworks was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to also be a player in this high profile installation.

The designer, David, and grower, Greg from Instant Jungle conceived of a green wall that would create a visually interesting, but, yet, relaxing space to the store. Our VGM system was the perfect solution. At the heart of this living wall product is a recycled plastic planting module attached to stainless steel hanging rods.

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In this case the vertical hanging rails were mounted onto horizontal uni-strut framing. The framing, attached to the tube-steel substructure, allows for flexibility when aligning the hanging rail. Each planting module is available with a generous 4″ soil profile which allows for healthier plants and lower maintenance. The modules are shipped to the job site already grown-in at Instant Jungle’s nursery for approx. 3 months. Instant Jungle also pre-assembles irrigation emitters and tubing into the module, so it can quickly be attached to the main irrigation system once hung on the rails.

IMAG0415The modules and rails can be installed on any type of structurally sound wall, although we’ve been seeing a lot of these types of installations lately.  The modules can easily be removed to change plants or get at the substructure at a later point in time.

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Completed in just a few days, the wall is ready for the grand opening!

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We enjoyed working with Starbucks and Disney, two companies known for providing their guests with an excellent experience, and we are thrilled to be part of the “magical” atmosphere in the Downtown Disney District.

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Partnerships – from our Feb. email blast

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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.