Chicago Road Trip!

photo 2

Things are happening in the Windy City! This summer I had the chance to spend several days traveling with our regional sales representative Brian Mitalo, visiting customers, specifiers and distribution partners. I was greeted by spectacular summer weather, an interesting, dynamic business environment, and one of the greenest cities that you’ll have the chance to visit. The landscaping throughout the Downtown area is really spectacular – you can tell that the city has made landscape maintenance a priority. The plantings along Michigan Avenue, the Millenium Park, flower baskets and hanging planters adorning every outdoor cafe – these people are serious about making the city green.

One of the companies we met with has been responsible for a number of green roof installations throughout the Midwest, including several huge projects out near O’Hare airport. Kurt Horvath and colleagues at Intrinsic Landscaping have installed several projects using Tournesol material, including a TerraScreen interior living wall at Pirch Interiors in Chicago and several large lightweight planter projects. They mentioned that things have got so busy quoting projects this spring that they have had trouble keeping up. Nice to hear our customers are keeping busy!!

marianos web 2

As I was driving to another appointment, I happened upon a project that had just been installed with our VertiGreen 3D Modular trellis system at a Mariano’s grocery store. The installation had only been installed the week before – but it looks terrific!

marianos web 1

It might not look like much yet, but within a few years, the vines should cover the trellis nicely. To get a perspective on the change, a few pictures below of another Chicago project – the Rivers Casino project. The first picture was taken several months after installation three years ago. The second was taken this summer.

IMG_0547 IMG_0859

Brian and I spent a good deal of time talking about our new Boulevard structural wood tiles and decking as we were meeting customers. The architects at Wolff Landscape Architecture (located right near the river) were excited about the concept, but stressed that it would need to be Class A fire rated (it is!).  Up to that point, they’ve only ever been able to specify ipe because of this requirements. They do a lot of roofdecks in wood, so they’re looking forward to using it.

We also spent some time with one of our local distributors, Mark from Lake Street Supply. They are the closest shop to downtown, and have great relationships with all the contractors working down there. Mark has built a fantastic business by being willing to try new things and find new products for his customers. We appreciate that in him - he thinks that Boulevard could be an exciting new product for them.

photo

We took some time for fun, too. This view from the John Hancock building  shows just a few of Chicago’s many green roofs. In total, there are over 350 vegetated roofs in Chicago providing more than 5 million sq. feet of green roof coverage.

On our way out of town we caught up on another installation from last summer. The city installed hundreds of large concrete planters around the entrances on the departures level. They are both decorative, as well as serving as a force barrier.  To keep maintenance to a minimum, each one is outfitted with our CWM container irrigation system. The plants look terrific – as do plants all over the city.

ohare web 1ohare web 2It was great to be in the field and see what’s going on with our partners and customers. I could see from their activity levels that the construction market in the midwest is really gaining steam. We’ll continue to work to be part of it!!

 

These are a few of our favorite things

The end of a year wouldn’t be the complete without a top ten list – so here are a few of our favorite things (in no particular order!)

1. Rooftop garden at 1130 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago

IMG_3678

19 custom WS-7200 planters in metal-infused aluminum.  We love the way they put the planters in place first, then built the decking around them.

2. Barnes & Noble TWIG bench project, Palo Alto, CA

Barnes & Noble TWIG 2

The campus is a cool place already, but the TWIG makes an incredible statement, providing a focal point, communal meeting point, and artistic element all in one.  It’s hard to imagine another product that could have that kind of impact there.

3. The CCDC project, Washington, DC

CCDC Production (4)

Every project can’t be accurately depicted with just a pretty picture! This project was immensely complicated, from a design, tooling & manufacturing standpoint. The customer pushed our timeline on several occasions, and our team responded every time. The product itself probably won’t go down as particularly memorable, although it was nearly 75 unique FRP planter liners, but our performance, in our mind, stood heads and shoulders above anything else we’d been called to do this year. We are rather proud of this one!

4. Our new color palette

Apple @ Gables Uptown Trail, Dallas, TX

Apple @ Gables Uptown Trail, Dallas, TX

Additions to our new standard colors were a big seller this year as they just can’t help but bring a smile to your face. Shown here in apple, we have also added mandarine, alarm, canary and puddle. We will be keeping our eyes out for the new color trends of 2014, and color matching is always available.

5. Everyone’s abuzz about the Buzz Bench…

NWCD2 - 27-2

…And, how can you not be! The Buzz Bike Bench was a hit at Dwell on Design and followed that up with a submission at the Museum of Craft & Design in SF. We look forward to future collaborations with Luxxbox of Australia.

Gorgeous Residential Terrace – Chicago

The photo used for the cover of our upcoming catalog

We furnished pots and irrigation systems for this spectacular Chicago high-rise terrace midway though 2008. At the time, the homeowner became aware of our products through a commercial renovation that they were part of. When it came time to outfit their patio, they had their landscape contractor come to us. Continue reading

Rivers Casino Parking Structure – VertiGreen 3D Trellis in Des Plaines, IL

VertiGreen 3D trellis at the Rivers Casino parking structure

Tournesol Sitework’s VertiGreen modular 3D trellis system was recently installed at this new casino parking structure project in Des Plaines, IL. The Rivers Casino called on the Elgin, IL office of  national parking structure consultant Walker Parking Consultants for the design. Katrina Laughlin of Laughlin Assocs. provided the landscape design. Continue reading

Chicago Flower and Garden Show, Part 2

All photos courtesy School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Last week we posted the layout of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s display at this year’s Chicago Flower and Garden Show. Their creative use of our products as elements in their design deserves another posting. Brian Mitalo, our local sales representative, mentioned that the design is actually a mock-up for a display to be installed in a courtyard at 10 E. Lake Street in Chicago. The SAIC has been working together with the Mayor’s office, Harold Washington College (which owns one wall of the courtyard) and Commonwealth Edison on the project.

Continue reading

Chicago Flower and Garden Show

Rendering of booth set-up. Images courtesy of SAIC

We’re pleased to be working with the design team from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on their booth at this year’s Chicago Flower & Garden show.  They are creating an unusual, vertical garden by combining our TerraScreen interior greenwall panels, the VertiGreen Hybrid trellis system, a vinyl printed backdrop along with neon lights.  Their creativity should be a breath of fresh air at the show!  We’ve been working with them on a design for a infill project in the City of Chicago, and they suggested taking the concept and abstracting it for this display.  Plants were provided by Hampshire Farms of Hampshire, IL.

Continue reading

Upcoming January Tradeshows Part 2 – New England Grows (Boston) and MidAm (Chicago)

The MidAm trade show is the premier winter landscape show in the MidWest.  Held in Chicago at Navy Pier, it will take place Jan. 19-21.  We’ll be well represented this year at the booth of our local distributor-partner Midwest Trading, along with our local sales representative Brian Mitalo.  Midwest Trading will have a 4-module Tournesol VGM modular living wall on display (similar to the one at the Garfield Park Conservatory), as well as our FRP fiberglass containers and irrigation inserts.  They are in booth 1117 – it will be hard to miss, as they have one of the larger booths, together with their partner company Midwest Groundcover.

The New England Grows conference will be held on Feb. 2-4 at the Boston Exhibition and Convention Center. Our local distributor-partner, Bisco Irrigation, has become a valued resource for landscape contractors and designers using Tournesol Siteworks products in New England.  They will be in booth 2423.

They’ll have a wide variety of Tournesol products on hand, including our planters, irrigation, VGM modular living wall, VertiGreen Hybrid and VertiGreen trellis systems, and a recently added TerraScreen interior greenwall system. This is your opportunity to check out the products that you’ve seen in pictures, and ask questions of our sales representative Brian Mitalo.