Bisnow spoke with Christopher Lyon and Carla Dougher about trends they see in LA’s sustainable design scene and how greenery can help create a more appealing place to work or live. They also discussed Tournesol Siteworks’ recent acquisition of Greenscreen, a designer and manufacturer of green facades and commercial trellis systems.
Biophilic design has been named the No. 1 sustainable design trend of 2023.
Whether they recognize the term or not, most people have seen the impact of biophilia in the increased use of plants, water and natural light features in the design of commercial buildings.
“In Downtown LA, many older buildings have been updated and refreshed with biophilia in mind by adding stylish pots, planters, greenery and furnishings in places where they wouldn't have been found in the past, such as rooftops, lobbies and exterior storefront spaces," said Carla Dougher, head of marketing for Tournesol Siteworks, a manufacturer of commercial-grade site furnishings and landscape solutions. "This trend is on the rise as the city prepares for the 2028 Olympics."
Bisnow spoke with Lyon and Dougher about trends they see in LA’s sustainable design scene and how greenery can help create a more appealing place to work or live. They also discussed Tournesol Siteworks’ recent acquisition of Greenscreen, a designer and manufacturer of green facades and commercial trellis systems.
Bisnow: What trends or opportunities do you see in LA’s building architecture and design sector?
Lyon: What we've found is that there is still a big carryover from Covid, when people were trapped inside. It is driving a widespread appreciation of exterior spaces and being outdoors, whether it's in their personal life or in a work environment.
People want to be outside, ideally in beautiful spaces, and this especially applies to Southern California where the weather is ideal all year long. But this trend is true of the entire country because people are re-evaluating their work-life balance and where they spend their time. This trend is actually morphing into something tenants have grown to expect and it is not going away, so designers, developers and property owners should be thinking about green spaces in their commercial and residential buildings.
Bisnow: What about property owners? Have their views of the outdoor environment evolved, too?
Lyon: In recent years, owners and developers have realized they were leaving valuable space in and on their buildings undeveloped and that the roof is, in fact, a usable space that adds measurable value to their property. They recognized they can delight their tenants by putting in a roof space with amenities like rooftop WIFI and comfortable furniture, and it gives their building an edge over the competition.
Dougher: I would add that there is also a ‘cool factor’ at work here. People want to be in buildings that offer more outdoor greenery and usable exterior space, versus the ones that don’t or are outdated.
Greening them up makes them stand out and lures people in for both work and leisure activities. Downtown Los Angeles is a mixture of old and new, and there is a lot of competition to design spaces that have the ‘it’ factor, which makes them more attractive. This factor also helps promote the space by providing inspirational backdrops for selfies and self-expression, which then assists with putting the location on the social map. Plants and greenery complement the design and architecture by finishing the look and making the space more welcoming and inviting.
Bisnow: What are some of the sustainability or green challenges confronting owners and developers in LA today, and how can design help them?
Lyon: When we look at workspaces, we're dealing with this balance of work from home and the return to the office, and this is truly the new battle zone. How do we make sure that people are comfortable coming into their office and truly want to be there?
Designers can do a lot to create appeal by making workspaces more welcoming, usable and desirable and this applies to both interiors and exteriors. Employees are interested in being able to meet and sit outdoors, and providing comfortable gathering spaces outside on a rooftop is the ultimate employee perk.
The architect and designer are the ones who are going to see the opportunities, and they are critical in influencing the developer or property owner. They can define that space and help the owner understand how to make informed decisions to get the best return on their investment.
Developers are also recognizing that people would like to be in a project that is greener than the project next door. This is true in terms of how the building is made, the materials used in construction and its aesthetic.
The steps to make greener buildings are not things that most developers are all that aware of, and that is where the designer truly adds value to the process. They understand what you can do to create a special space while keeping costs within the owner’s price range.
Bisnow: What advice do you have for the people who will attend the Los Angeles Architecture and Design Summit?
Lyon: In retrofit or new building projects, the designers need to be involved early in the process and they need to bring the product manufacturers and the suppliers in earlier so we can look at the range of different things that are available to meet the client's goals. If we are brought in at the start of the project, we can respond to the owner or developer’s desire to deliver a more sustainable project that works.
Bisnow: How does Tournesol Siteworks’ recent acquisition of Greenscreen fit into the biophilic design trend?
Lyon: We are the No. 1 manufacturer of commercial pots and planters in the country. Greenscreen is the No. 1 commercial trellis product company in the country. This is the marriage of plants on horizontal spaces and plants on vertical spaces, and these two things go together perfectly when people are using plants in their outdoor amenity spaces to soften their buildings.
We've been co-specified with Greenscreen on projects for years, and we've always been right next to them on jobs. Now that it's just one company, it will be that much easier for customers to work with us.
Article: John Krukowski, Studio B Writer