Tag Archives: Custom

Dolby Labs – why good project management counts…


When Dolby Laboratories (the brilliant company behind Dolby Sound that you see at movies and on consumer electronics) wanted to spruce up the 16-story older building that they purchased in the up and coming Mid-Market area of San Francisco (just two doors down from Twitter), they turned to Gensler Associates in San Francisco.

The building had a number of large terraces that were neglected and unused by the previous tenant. Gensler wanted to create usable, elegant space for Dolby. To keep the occupants away from the railings, they designed a series of planters that would border the perimeter. Additionally, on the top deck a series of window-washing davits needed to be hidden with matching covers. Gensler, and Dolby’s general contractor DPR Construction, turned to Tournesol Siteworks to work through the complicated installation.


It was an enormously complicated project. There was a significant amount of coordination that had to be done between Tournesol Siteworks’ project management team, Gensler, and DPR. Tournesol worked from the architect’s initial concepts to create products that could be manufactured off common tooling wherever possible. There were more than 200 custom planters required, each of which needed to be ready as the project was completed floor by floor. Scheduling and prioritization were critical. When the project ran behind and the floors began to be occupied, certain floors could only be installed on weekends.

A 30″w pad was poured at the edge of each deck to support the planters. The planters were sized precisely to fall at the railing mullions. The color of the pots was matched to the color of the mullion, and took 6  attempts to finally land on a color that all approved.  30″square concrete pavers on adjustable pedestals fell along the same lines to complete the look. “Inner” and “Outer” corner planters had an unusual shape to accommodate mechanical fixtures at each level.

Each Wilshire Collection style planter was fitted with our CWM Modular container irrigation system. The planters were installed without holes, with our DR drainage pump-out system. In San Francisco they don’t worry about rain and drainage in the Summer, and with recent conditions, they might not need to in the winters either!

On a massive project like this, it was inevitable that a few complications arose. An initial drawing by the architect had a length transposed, which wasn’t caught by the installing sub-contractor during field verification. The already completed units were returned to Tournesol’s facility, and adjusted their sizes to fit – then changed the tool for the other similar units (no mean feat based upon the critical schedule). There were also some pots that were scratched during installation, which required some touch up after everything was done – not bad for over 200 containers! Find out how Tournesol Siteworks’ project management team can help you with your next challenge!

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.


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. 


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!


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.

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.  

Kaiser AV

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.


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.

Grand Hyatt Entrance Renovation, San Francisco, CA

The new entrance to the Grand Hyatt, San Francisco

If you know San Francisco, you probably know the Grand Hyatt. Less than a block off Union Square, its enterance sits right on Stockton St. This large facility seems to host a never-ending chain of conferences, events, and important guests. The entry has always been somewhat “quirky”. The side-slope hill and assymmetric entrance to the right was originally designed with a set of steps leading to nowhere (see photo below).


The Whaler, Maui, HI – a case study

One of two towers at The Whaler condominium, Maui

The Whaler is a private condominium resort located on Kaanapali Beach on Maui in Hawaii. The complex is made up of two 12-story towers, and was built more than 30 years ago. The owner’s group, represented by construction manager Michael Wright & Assocs, undertook a major renovation in 2011. The design was freshened up by Maui Architectural Group with Sandra Tengan Interior Designs, and the renovation work done by Honolulu Builders. Read more >>

City College of San Francisco – Chinatown/North Beach Campus

The new Chinatown/North Beach campus building of the City College of San Francisco

In the middle of 2009, we were approached by EHDD Architecture of San Francisco, who were in the process of designing the new Chinatown/North Beach campus of the City College of San Francisco.  They asked if we would be interested in fabricating custom Wilshire Collection rectangles with integrated bench seating for the terrace of the new building. It was the first time that we’d been approached to do this, so we knew it would be a challenge for us. But, it was a major new construction project, in a time when there weren’t many around – of course we’d be interested! Read more >>

Our newest project: Canon USA Headquarters, Melville, NY

Canon USA Headquarters rendering for HOK, courtesy of Pixelplume

Tournesol Siteworks has been awarded a major contract for the production of our Wilshire Box hanging planters for the Canon U.S.A. Headquarters in Melville, NY.  We look forward to working closely with Steven Dubner Landscaping, the installing contractor. Turner Construction is the general contractor, EW Howell the construction manager, and HOK the specifying architect. Read more >>

Del Frisco Grille Interior Living Wall, Phoenix, AZ


all images courtesy of Plant Solutions of Scottsdale, AZ

Our friends at Plant Solutions in Scottsdale just shared a fantastic slide show with us of their most recent installation of an interior living wall at the Del Friscos Grille in Phoenix.  They’ve done great work in the past with our living walls (see here, here, and here), so we were anxious to share this with you.

Preparing the TerraScreen interior green wall on a custom frame