All posts by Chris Lyon

Cordell Hull Parking Garage, Nashville, TN

We’ve been involved with the recent renovation of the Cordell Hull state office building in downtown Nashville, TN. The building, originally built in 1954, was completely renovated and a brand new parking structure added over the last two years. The building, named for Franklin D Roosevelt’s Tennessee-born Secretary of State, is attached to the Tennessee state capitol by a tunnel, and houses the offices of all state legislators.

We’ve provided planters for this project in two phases. The first, provided by our partners at Ewing Irrigation and installed by Southern Creations, was delivered in April of 2017. We delivered 8 of our largest fiberglass Urban Collection planters, the UR-7200 (6′ square). They were in our Tier 2 color MMP Aluminum, and were ordered with our CWM container irrigation system.

The second, decidedly more exciting part of the project was just delivered at the end of March. The greenroof on the top of the parking garage was installed by our friends at Greenrise Technology, who also sent us these pictures. We received an email about 3 weeks prior to the scheduled shipping date informing us that we were working against an absolute turnover deadline (liquidated damages, for those in the business). Our El Paso facility, where the product was produced, worked it out so that we would be able to make sure we got the product there several days ahead of schedule. We came down to the wire, but we made it.

We delivered the ten lightweight fiberglass UR-7200 units (again in MMP Aluminum color), three days before the deadline. According to Ray Derbecker, president of Greenrise:

It all worked out perfectly.
We finished on time and blew the minds of the crowd of Tennessee State Senators who were serious doubters along the way.
Your planters are beautiful.
Thanks for everything.

 

We have several more exciting projects coming up with Greenrise that we’ll look forward to showing you once they go in. They do some amazing rooftop work in projects around the country!

Pre-cast Bioretention Planters Filter Stormwater

We’ve got some great images of a bioretention planter project that was installed in Mountain View, CA. We’ve been working with designers for some time on these kinds of projects, so it’s about time we can share some images!

Scuppers drain to surface plantings

The project, 1101 W. El Camino is a  newly constructed 52-unit condominium community located in the heart of downtown Mountain View, CA, which happens to be the home base of Google. The project is designed by Jett Landscape Architecture + Design, and installed by Regis Contractors.

California (and much of the West Coast) has introduced stormwater quality requirements on large new construction projects, commonly referred to as C.3 Stormwater guidance. This requires that all water coming off constructed environments be filtered through bioswales and bioretention areas to improve water quality. You’ve probably seen these kinds of filtering areas within parking lots and around buildings. You can learn more about the requirements at this website.

Note walldrains entering planters above

One common strategy used by architects and landscape architects is to introduce bioretention planters onto the structure of the building, which otherwise would have taken up footprint at ground level. These planters have traditionally been very large, cast-in-place concrete areas susceptible to waterproofing and drainage failure. They need to be large to filter the substantial amount of stormwater draining off the roof and exposed areas. Tournesol Siteworks has been working with designers for several years on developing pre-cast bioretention planters that serve the same function.

Walldrains at either end flow through all four planters

Typically a bioretention planter is at least 42″ deep, which allows for 12″ of gravel, 24″ of filtering soil media, and 6″ of freeboard area to accommodate the drainage from the drain lead. You can get an idea of how this works in the images above and below.  Drainage from the pre-cast planter may be channeled out by a plumbed drain line (as seen above), or may be drained from a scupper to a on-ground planting area.

Stormwater drains into planter

Pre-cast biorention planters are typically made of lightweight GFRC concrete. The live loads on the sidewalls of these very large planters typically demand the rigidity and strength of concrete (although we’re investigating the use of FRP fiberglass right now). The units may be used individually, or ganged together to filter a larger area.

Tournesol Siteworks has been developing, with input from our design customers, strategies for connecting planters, both together and to typical drainage plumbing. The product compares very favorably, both in terms of footprint and ease of installation, with both cast-in-place concrete and build-in-place CMU construction.  Because these are becoming ever more common, we’re putting our project teams to work on these projects on a regular basis.

Bioretention planters ganged together at the top and the bottom

The planters shown here all use custom decorative brass hardware. Tournesol Siteworks has developed standard non-decorative solutions for both connecting planters as well as drainage.

Detail of custom brass scuppers (by others)

1101 W. El Camino is an excellent example of this type of use of on-structure bioretention – we’ll look forward to providing you with more applications using this same solution soon!

Goodyear Ballpark – Spring Training!

The scheduler at our Union City facility, Angel Rodriguez, just got back from a little R&R in Arizona over spring break. While there, he went to a spring training game at Goodyear Ballpark, in Goodyear, AZ. The ballpark is the spring training home of the Reds and the Indians – of course he was going to watch the Giants, who played the Indians that day. He’s a big 49ers and Giants fan!

Like just about everyone that works here, he pays special attention to the site furnishings wherever he goes. He thought he recognized the benches and trash receptacles. Sure enough, they are the Pacifica Collection benches, paired with the Esplanade Collection round receptacles.

We asked around at our facility in Port Orchard, WA, where the benches were produced, and they looked up the project. They were originally produced in 2008 and were installed prior to the 2009 season – so almost 10 years old! Two images below show the benches, receptacles, and our B-5 Collection bollards that were used on the project as well, photographed shortly after installation.  Angel reports that they are a) comfortable, and b) still looking great after ten years!!
When you work at Tournesol, you pay attention to these things – there is nothing more important to us than making sure that the product is performing successfully for the owner!! Thanks, Angel, for the photos.

Successful sites start here

You might notice that the newest advertisements, catalogs, and detail sheets from Tournesol Siteworks carry the phrase in the title of this blog – Successful sites start here

For the better part of the last decade, we’ve introduced ourselves as the company at the intersection of landscape and architecture. While we still are, we’re focusing our message on a more important part of our business – you!

Though we’ve expanded our manufacturing footprint over the years, the real thing that’s allowed us to grow our business is a dedication to customer success. We’re pleased that you continue to make us your first choice, which we think reflects the effort we make to ensure your projects come out the way you want them to.

Whether in sales, engineering, or on the shop floor, our employees ask themselves “is this the way the customer would want it done?” We’ve chosen our tagline as a means of reflecting who we are, and who we’re committed to be. Give us the opportunity and put this promise to the test – we’ll do everything we can to make your next project a success!

Christopher Lyon – President

Taking care of (someone else’s) business…

One of the most important things that Tournesol Siteworks offers is the promise to make sure that things are correct. Recently a project came to our attention that demonstrated that commitment.

The project in question was a mixed-use development in Oakland, completed in the Summer of 2016. Our Wilshire Collection planters had been specified both on a second-floor terrace area as well as along the corners of the main structure.

Wilshire Collection Square and Rectangular Planters

Northern California has had quite a rainy season so far. Shortly after it started, our regional sales manager Troy Nottingham received a call from the landscape contractor on the project, complaining about leaking and deforming pots. We quickly contacted our local distributor to figure out exactly what we sold on the project.

Before we got the information from the distributor, the general contractor escalated the issue by emailing us, the specifying landscape architect, owner, and everyone else. Troy adjusted his schedule and visited the project the next day to assess the situation.

Wilshire Collection Rectangular and Square Planters

It was a fairly simple answer – there were 60″L x 18″W x 36″H planters at the corners of the project, and the ones facing west had nothing to block the rain. The pots were plumbed for irrigation, but not drainage, and were filling up with water. As they filled, the walls flexed out significantly, something that won’t typically happen with our containers. In addition, the caulk seal around the irrigation penetration wasn’t holding, and water was leaking out.

Troy followed up the site visit with a full report to the landscape architect, general contractor, and landscape contractor. He gave an analysis of the problem, and provided several suggestions to relieve the stress on the containers and solve the problem.

The next week he called the project manager for the landscape contractor, and asked about the next steps. Sheepishly, the contractor admitted that Tournesol had provided the pots for the second-floor terrace (which were doing just fine), but that they had gone to another manufacturer for the ones on the ground floor(!). He hadn’t realized it initially when calling us, only finding out after speaking with their purchaser.

We were of course relieved to know that it wasn’t our product that was the issue. It’s also good to know that when contractors feel that something is wrong, they can count on us to make it right. However, we’d prefer not to have to troubleshoot someone else’s problem!

 

Tournesol Siteworks Acquires FairWeather Site Furnishings

Tournesol Siteworks of Union City announced that it has acquired the assets of Leader Manufacturing, Inc., based in Port Orchard, WA. Leader has been selling a wide range of metal and wood site furnishings since 1980 under the FairWeather brand name.

Austin 360 project, Austin, TX

Tournesol Siteworks has become one of the largest manufacturers of commercial-grade pots, planters and other landscape accessories in the country, and has experienced four years of 30% sales growth. This year, it was nominated for the Association of Corporate Growth “Outstanding Growth Awards” by the Bay Area chapter. Tournesol currently operates plants in Union City, El Paso, TX, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The Port Orchard facility will be the base for metal and wood fabrication for the company. Several current activities will be relocated to the new facility.

Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL

FairWeather is a vertically-integrated manufacturer with an experienced production team, which complements Tournesol’s current capabilities in FRP fiberglass and lightweight GFRC concrete. With the acquisition Tournesol will gain the capacity to competitively manufacture products for the commercial landscape marketplace in any commercially-required material.

According to Christopher Lyon, President of Tournesol Siteworks, “this acquisition makes us into the broadest-category manufacturer in the commercial landscape marketplace, and will allow us to open up a whole new front for product development. The existing FairWeather focus on product quality and customer service fits well with ours, and should simplify the integration.”

Richard and Cathy Flaherty, co-owners of FairWeather, are delighted with the opportunity that Tournesol Siteworks presents to its employees, and potential growth for the FairWeather and FairWinds brands of site furniture. While the Flaherty’s have been approached, several times regarding acquisition, Tournesol was the first company that presented the size, vision and culture that was a strong fit with the principles and ethics they had set for the past 27 years. The sale to Tournesol was a natural next step for the evolution of the brand.

City of Kent, WA

Employees at both locations are excited about the new opportunity. We’ll feature more FairWeather furnishings in future blog posts – stay tuned to find out more!

Tournesol Nominated for Local “Outstanding Growth Company” Award

san-francisco
The Association for Corporate Growth is a national business group that promotes itself as the “pre-eminent organization dedicated to helping middle-market companies grow.” Tournesol Siteworks was recently nominated for their “Outstanding Growth Awards” as one of the standouts in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s a recognition of the business we’ve worked hard to build over the past 20+ years, as well as a reflection of the construction market climate that we’re enjoying right now.
This from the ACG-San Francisco website:
SF-ACG seeks to identify, understand and disseminate those qualities that lead to superior growth and overall performance in Middle Market Companies. Each year we recognize the company or organization that exemplifies these superlatives with our Outstanding Growth Award.
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We’re honored to be included in this group of impressive companies. We’ve been able to grow at a 30% rate over the past few years, thanks to the hard work of the entire Tournesol Siteworks team. This recognition is one that we can all be proud of – and one that we hope to continue to build on!

TWIG comes to Redwood City

There is nothing quite as gratifying as doing work that goes into your own hometown. I live in Redwood City, CA, a smallish town in the middle of the San Francisco peninsula. Just recently a large new office building opened downtown. Box (the cloud storage company) is the major tenant.  I took these photos last weekend when walking downtown to see a movie. This plaza is just down the street from the theater.

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On the plaza in front of Box, several of our TWIG benches have been installed by Shooter and Butts landscape contractors . The project was designed by Korth Sunseri Hagey architects, and our friends at the Guzzardo Partnership (landscape architects). In addition to these three benches on grade, there are 10 more on the upper podium level, as well as 8 of our 60″ diameter Downtown Collection lightweight concrete pots. For the on-grade TWIG benches, Guzzardo specified our specially-made stainless steel skate stops. Our partners at Street & Garden Furniture in Australia would be pleased to see the complete installation!

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Redwood City is a rapidly redeveloping part of the peninsula – in addition to Crossing 900, there are many apartments and condominium complexes being built. We’ve had products specified in many of them. Downtown Redwood City is right on the train line into San Francisco and, up to this point most, development has been going south towards Palo Alto and Silicon Valley. We’re finally catching up – with a vengeance. I’m proud of the work we do, and it’s fun to be able to point out projects we work on to friends, especially when you can see the results. They’re always surprised with what I do for a living!

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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!

maximum-security
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.