Tournesol Siteworks

Iconic 101 California St. in the City By the Bay

101 California Street in San Francisco is an iconic, 48-story building in the heart of the Financial District. The interior lobby is a thing of beauty in itself, an atrium with the first seven stories enclosed in glass. Tournesol Siteworks was fortunate to be contacted by Gensler, San Francisco, when they were recently  working on the lobby renovation.

Gensler received an internal referral recommending us for the project after we worked with them on the rooftop of the Dolby headquarters building, also in San Francisco. On the Dolby project, Tournesol Siteworks worked from the architect’s initial concepts to create products that could be manufactured off common tooling wherever possible.IMG_7940

For 101 California Street’s lobby redesign, Gensler had a very specific concept for the lobby planters. They wanted metal planters with stone on the front face. The design was rather complex, and involved a FRP liner as well as an internal metal structure. We were able to simplify the design with a Wilshire Square FRP pot, which eliminated the need for the internal frame. We collaborated with Design Workshops in Oakland, who created the decorative outer element as designed.


Design Workshops clad the outside of the pot directly. Our Wilshire square planters are made to withstand the pressures of the soil, water and interior preparation for what the designer wanted to display, and for the lobby to be protected from the elements. The collaboration brought the overall cost of the project down – a win-win for all involved.



Hey, Kool-Aid!! TWIG finds its way to Nebraska

Tournesol Siteworks recently had the opportunity to collaborate with Brian Pecka, landscape architect with Big Muddy Workshop, in their design for the town of Hastings, Nebraska. Hastings is known as the place where Kool-Aid was invented in 1927 and still celebrates that event with an annual festival in August. The festival takes place on the Hastings Campus of Central Community College.

CCC Nebraska

Recently, a new seating plaza was unveiled outside the CCC’s Student Union Hall. Big Muddy Workshop used five of our TWIG Benches – they were looking for an organic shape and feel to break up the harsh lines of the plaza’s concrete surface. They worked on the project with Wilkins Architecture Design & Planning (WAEP), an architectural firm out of Kearney, Nebraska. General Contractor for the installation was Lacy Construction Company, from Grand Island.


The TWIG Benches help create a highly configurable, modular seating system which promotes social interaction and a casual environment. TWIG originated with Street and Garden Furniture, our partner down under, in a design by Alexander Lotersztain. The benches are made from lightweight GFRC concrete.

Anna Head Housing TWIG 2

A concealed mount bracket keeps the bench in place with epoxy anchors. The TWIG Benches create a more dynamic space by breaking up the straight horizontal and vertical lines of other features in the plaza. At night, the seating plaza is lit up by the steel light posts creating a warm, lit effect across the space.

Hastings 1

The students actively use the seating area as a place to get outside and rest between classes, especially during nice weather. It is accessible in the front of the campus and the open shape of the TWIG creates a feeling of community.

Catalog coming soon!

Our new catalog is being printed soon! 

The 120 page catalog will be mailed out at the beginning of December and will include updates on our most recent products. It has an entirely new format featuring inspirational photo galleries of installations and product applications.

To receive our catalog, please email

Postcard front look

The New Whitney Museum of American Art

The Whitney Museum of American Art recently opened in a new building located in the Meatpacking District of lower Manhattan, New York, on the Hudson and at the southern entrance to HighLine Park (which Tournesol also participated in). The iconic museum was designed by architects Renzo Piano Building Workshop, with Henshell and Buccellato, Consulting Architects, out of New Jersey.

Whitney 6

The roof decks and visual ambiance of the building are simple and elegant, creating a fresh and vibrant usable space. However, water is no friend of the art inside the building, so strength and maximum water flow was of utmost importance to the designers and engineers. The broad terraces of the building collect large amounts of water, which needs to be effectively drained and kept from the building envelope.

Whitney 5

The installing roofing contractor, Eagle One Roofing from Queens, used our high-performance VersiCell Drainage Panels in a vertical and slanted orientation as a high-capacity drainage channel at the edge of the deck, between the substructure and the building envelope.


Other drainage products compress over time, but the sub-surface VersiCell Drainage Panels are non-compressible, high-strength drainage panels. The panel’s durable open structure provided assurance to design professionals that water won’t collect where it shouldn’t.





Green student living at the Varsity-Berkeley

The Varsity-Berkeley apartment building recently opened up in downtown Berkeley. The project, designed by Johnson-Lyman architects of Walnut Creek, is anticipated to mostly house students attending the nearby University of California. The building features a number of green elements, including solar power, a greenroof, not to mention an amenity deck for the residents designed by landscape architects Thomas Baak and Associates.

The project was built  as an urban in-fill project by Brown Construction of Sacramento, replacing a repurposed church. We were fortunate to have been part of the design process, supporting Baak and Assocs. through the early phases, and then working  with Cima’s Landscape of Rancho Cordova as the project moved towards completion.


The on-structure landscaping involved two parts of the building – a 5th floor non-accessible terrace with the green roof, solar panels and planters, and a 7th floor amenity deck. Our product was extensively used in both locations. The two pictures above show the amenity areas, which feature walkways and patio space on concrete pavers and our  Boulevard Wood tiles, all resting on our VersiJack pedestals. The finished deck level is approx. 8-12″ above the roof membrane.


Our lightweight FRP  Wilshire Collection round and rectangular planters were used as accents and to organize space on the deck. The addition of our VertiGreen trellis to a Wilshire planter creates a Wilshire Screen, which was used to shield the perimeter.

IMG_7680The planters were also used as a location to hide the irrigation control valves, as shown in the image above. We frequently get questions from designers about what they can do with these, and we think this is a pretty good idea! The designers chose the relatively bold Oxide color for the project, which turned out well, especially with the other strong accent colors.

All of  the Wilshire rectangle planters were recessed below the finished deck level and placed on VersiJack pedestals below the deck level to allow drainage, rather than set on top of the Boulevard wood tiles. This is one of the larger applications of this new product, and we’re looking forward to seeing how they withstand the relatively challenging environment of student housing.


We’ll look forward to getting updates to show you how they wear!

Expanding Central Park…


IMG_6216Central Park Plaza in Valparaiso, IN, that is.

Central Park Plaza is the centerpiece of the revitalization of downtown Valparaiso. It was developed in 2011, with a significant expansion in July 2015.  We were pleased to be able to provide the pots, planters, and trellis for the recent expansion, designed by Shive Hattery of West Des Moines, IA.


We provided the project with lightweight GFRC Wilshire Collection rounds (36″dia. and 60″ dia.), and Wilshire Screen GFRC rectangles (72″L x 18″W x 36″H). All the planters had to be movable so that the City could relocate them a throughout during the Summer for events held at the park.


The Wilshire Screen planters needed to provide 12-feet of vertical screening to hide the utilities behind them. The decorative metal screening (see image below) was attached to two 4×6 Tournesol Siteworks VertiGreen trellis panels mounted in landscape orientation on specially engineered brackets. The brackets had to be designed to withstand significant wind loading. The Wilshire Screen planters also used Tournesol’s CWM Modular container irrigation system to make maintenance easy.

Burbank Towers

The Burbank Tower, located at 3900 West Alameda in Burbank, CA , rises over the busy entertainment hub along the Ventura Freeway with hundreds of media firms surrounded by Universal, Warner Bros. and Disney studios. Recently purchased by the Worthe Real Estate Group, the Tower has undergone a renovation “to appeal to people in the entertainment industry.”


During the renovation process, Tourensol Siteworks was called in by OJB The Office of James Burnett to find out if our hanging Wilshire Box planters could be modified for their specific application. As seen above, we fabricated 5 different lengths of our 18″W x 24″H boxes (96″, 93″, 75″, 72″ and 60″), and painted them a custom color to match the building.  Each set of boxes (and there are typically 3 per set) were designed with  plumbed irrigation and drainage lines

The project was purchased and installed by Krismar Construction in March, and the photographs were just taken this month.


The lightweight fiberglass box, pre-engineered brackets, and the easy-to-use mounting template have been designed for fast, simple installation by the contractor. Wilshire Boxes are used to contain plants on green facade projects, parking structures, and spandrel and parapet walls.

Wilshire FRP fiberglass Boxes are available in 3 different size ranges, (10″W x 12″H, 12″W x 18″H, 18″W x 24″H). The simple styling works with most building types, and highlights the plants rather than the planter. The hanging brackets are powder coated with stainless mounting studs. The brackets tuck into the back of the box, so the planter can snug up next to the wall. It’s a system used in hundreds of installations nationwide, and one of the most commonly found systems on parking structures today.


A visit to El Paso…

IMG_3268Last week I had the opportunity to visit our new plant in El Paso, TX, meet many of the people we have working there, and see some of our newest products.

They’ve already begun producing many of Tournesol Siteworks’ GFRC products (planters, TWIG and Rune benches, garbage cans, etc.), but there is a full line of Stonewear products that I wanted to learn about.

discussing molds

Antonio, moldmaker extrordinaire and operations manager of the Juarez facility along with Isaias, operations manager of the El Paso facility.

We have complete mold-making capabilities in the new-to-us facilities, so we’ve been working to coordinate how we exchange information between our California engineering staff and the toolmaker. Because everyone builds their molds differently, we’ve had to get used to their process (and vice-versa). Things are progressing as well as we could hope.

Planter Barrier

A planter barrier, showing the internal barrier mold – just add concrete!

The planter barrier products that Stonewear has offered for the past decade is something we’re looking forward to promoting. While other manufacturers create a barrier by simply pre-casting a massively heavy planter and shipping it cross country, Stonewear figured out a better way. The barrier products are all light weight GFRC and designed to ship anywhere across the country. Each barrier integrates a lightweight internal mold and rebar system that lets the local contractor add the weight using inexpensive premix concrete. For a simple barrier inside a round planter (shown above), the form creates a jersey barrier inside the planter that will stop 4,000 lbs moving at 50mph!


Stops vehicles in their tracks – a maximum-security planter barrier

For maximum security applications, Stonewear designed a planter barrier to the US government’s DOS K-4 standard. Buried up to the base in the soil and then filled with premix concrete, it can stop 15,000 lbs. moving at 50mph – adequate for most government buildings. There aren’t many easier, more attractive ways for a designer to integrate a maximum security barrier into a project!

Decorative bollards

Typical lightweight concrete bollards

We’ve offered metal bollards and bike racks from our partners at Street & Garden Furniture in the past, but Stonewear bollards introduce a new element into our line. Either as a high security bollard cover over 8″ steel pipe that can stop 5,000lbs moving at 30mph, or simply decorative bollard covers (as seen above) that sit over 6″ steel pipe – we now have an answer for any application.

Packaging pots

Packaging up several Downtown Collection GFRC pots

Of course the largest component of what Tournesol Siteworks does (and what Stonewear did) is make pots and planters. We’ll be producing all of our shapes and sizes, and most of the offering that Stonewear has had over the years. It’s a great fit – a little overlap, but our offering will grow dramatically in GFRC. We’ll also be introducing many of their shapes in FRP fiberglass over time as well.

Stonewear Fountains

Isaias and Raoul trial-fit the seat cap on an 8′ fountain basin. Looks perfect!

And finally, fountains! I spent quite a bit of time working to understand the turnkey fountain products. While somewhat complex with lots of options, Stonewear turnkey fountains offer exceptional value for a complete fountain system. They have hundreds of impressive installations across the country, proving the reliability of the system design.

A Living Penthouse

Some jobs just seem to take longer than others! In Jan. 2014, we were looking forward to being part of the renovation of Time Square’s Knickerbocker Hotel. It was in the process of being restored to its former glory, thanks to a $115 million makeover by new owners, FelCor Lodging Trust.

Architect Peter Poon and Designer Gabellini Sheppard took the interior down to the floor plates, so it is essentially a “brand new hotel”, except for its extraordinary, original Beaux-Arts facade, which was preserved. A NYC landmark since 1988, the building had functioned as an office building, but it is better known for hosting such guests as John D. Rockefeller, having its own subway entrance, and is thought to have been the birthplace of the original martini!


The living wall, part of a design by landscape architect M. Paul Freidberg and Partners  of Manhattan, is finally complete! It is the highlight of an amazing Penthouse Suite, and features our VGM modular living wall system. Tournesol shipped over 500 of the 8″ deep VGM3-10 modules, which were installed on three of the exterior walls. Installation contractor  Blondies Treehouse  was responsible for the project installation. We’ve worked with them on a number of living walls in the NYC area.  Blondies was assisted with plant and soil design by Sempergreen and Moerings Green Roof Maintenance.

6215-2 6215-5

The VGM were planted and installed early this year (a year after we anticipated), but have grown in through the summer and, according to Howard Freilich of Blondies. He commented that it was a tough installation, but that we can all be proud of the results.  Thanks, Howard – you make us look great!!

first summer 615-1

Stonewear now part of Tournesol Siteworks

As of June 1, Stonewear Composite Stone Products of El Paso, TX has become part of Tournesol Siteworks. We’re rapidly growing, and acquiring Stonewear gives us the opportunity to take advantage of their maquiladora-based lightweight concrete manufacturing footprint straddling the Texas-Mexico border.  In addition, Tournesol will now be able to offer turnkey fountains, security and barrier products and an even larger selection of site furnishings and planters.


a turnkey 12′ Stonewear Fountain

Tournesol will be consolidating the full current Stonewear product offering into its existing lineup. Stonewear’s focus on products for urban landscapes fits perfectly with Tournesol’s existing strategic direction. Most exciting is the line of pre-engineered fountains  that Stonewear has been manufacturing for the last 20 years. There are hundreds of  options, and when combined with Stonewear’s installation services, adding a dramatic splash to a project couldn’t be any easier.

Turnkey fountains from 8'-16'

Turnkey fountains from 8′-16′

We’ve been close with Stonewear for nearly a decade, and have always admired the level of craftsmanship of their work. Their focus on operational excellence in GFRC will enhance Tournesol Siteworks’ offering in that material, and we’re looking forward to expanding our sales in lightweight concrete with the improved capacity.

Security planter barriers and bollards

Security planter barriers and bollards

Stonewear has a been a leader in lightweight concrete with a history going back over 30 years. Their craftsmen are some of the best when it comes to GFRC, and will be also manufacturing much of our concrete product in the El Paso and Juarez locations. This will free up space and labor for more FRP fabrication in Northern California. We’ll explore more of their product options and features on future blog postings.


Aventine urns, with base

Former Stonewear owner Ben Vandenbossche commented that “Tournesol will be a great home for the Stonewear product line. They understand selling and marketing to designers, and we’re looking forward to them continuing the Stonewear tradtion”  Ben will remain active in a consulting role for several months. The rest of the employees will join Tournesol Siteworks as Stonewear’s operations in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez will be expanded as volume increases.