Category Archives: Company News

Second Look – New Orleans Botanical Garden Living Walls

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Photos courtesy of Luis Andrade, Ewing

If you read our blog occasionally, you know that we like to go back and look at projects some time after they are installed. We believe that a project is more than just the pretty picture taken immediately after install, but also how the products withstand the weather, planting and maintenance. Back in October, Tournesol Siteworks exhibited at the ASLA ’16 in New Orleans, LA, and while there, we stopped to visit a project we participated in to view the final installation of our products.

New Orleans Botanical Garden, Arrival Entrance and Event Court; photo courtesy of Luis Andrade, Ewing

Eight months later, our partners at Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply went back this week to view the project at the New Orleans Botanical Garden in City Park. Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects, from Baton Rouge, specified our VGM Modular Living Wall as the arrival to the garden entrance. City Park has been undergoing renovations this past year and the green wall is proudly placed at the new Arrival Garden and Event Court.

Photo courtesy of Luis Andrade, Ewing

Our partners at Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply collaborated with Rotolo Consultants Inc. who installed the beautiful living wall. The full VGM green wall is 1,000 square feet and is a vertical, lush garden presentation which introduces the park entrance to garden visitors.

Photo courtesy of Luis Andrade, Ewing

The Botanical Garden living wall utilizes over 300 VGM3 planting modules. Each module is made from 100% recycled plastic, attached to stainless steel rails mounted to a wall or structure. After the modules are grown in (as shown above), they provide instant, complete coverage on any vertical surface. With the VGM System, root growth isn’t limited by restricting cells or baffles so, in turn, plants grow healthier and stronger.

Photo courtesy of Luis Andrade, Ewing

We are thrilled that the Botanical Garden living walls are thriving and growing abundantly. The visitors and guests can enjoy this lush garden and beautiful fountain with each visit.

Transbay Transit Center – VersiCell in SF’s Upcoming Park

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We were thrilled to see the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle Newspaper on April 12 (online April 11), featuring the Transbay Transit Center currently being built in busy downtown San Francisco. The Transbay Transit Center is more than just a rooftop park, it will be a huge city park at 5.4 acres and a quarter of a mile long, within one of the busiest city sections on the West Coast.

Tournesol Siteworks is thoroughly involved in this high profile project, as 192, 000 sq. ft  our VersiCell sub-surface drainage panels were specified by PWP Landscape Architecture. In the SF Chronicle article titled “Transbay Transit Center rooftop turning into 5.4-acre City Park,” writer J.K. Dineen states,

The Transbay Transit Center is set to open late this year and will serve numerous bus lines, including AC Transit, Muni, Golden Gate Transit and Greyhound. It’s still unknown when it might connect to high-speed rail or Caltrain, which will operate the station, how much it will cost to operate, or what shops and restaurants will occupy the 100,000 square feet of retail space.

…But what is known is this: Tree by tree, San Francisco’s next significant public open space, a 5.4-acre green rooftop boxed in by towers of glass, is taking shape atop the transit center. And amid all the questions about the future of the transit center, it is the park — with its carefully curated collection of flora — that has the potential to make the project an attraction in the years before the trains arrive.

Our Versicell drainage panels were installed by contractors from McGuire and Hester out of Alameda, CA, just across the bay from San Francisco. VersiCell is a sub-surface drainage panel that provides the ultimate combination of strength and water flow capacity. The modular, connectable panels are frequently used in a variety of installations where fast, high-volume water flow is critical. In addition to sub-surface drainage, VersiCell is frequently used in place of heavy gravel aggregates for waterproofing membrane protection, for heat and sound insulation on structures, as a drainage channel, and on subterranean walls to prevent hydrostatic pressure buildup.

To read the entire SF Chronicle, Transbay Transit Center article, please click here. It is exciting to know that our VersiCell is highly inert, and won’t break down or crush over the life of this application, and that we are part of a project that will be enjoyed by people for decades.

 

 

 

Custom Metal Designs – Percival Landing Park

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In January 2017, Tournesol Siteworks acquired FairWeather Site Furnishings, with a facility located in Port Orchard, WA. With the acquisition comes new products and installations from across the country that Tournesol can now provide. The Washington facility will be our base for metal and wood fabrication. As we’re getting to know FairWeather, we’re enjoying and sharing the stories of projects and installations.

Percival Landing table and chairs with custom branded design

The City of Olympia Parks and Recreation Department, in Olympia, Washington, undertook a revitalization project to Percival Landing Park. Percival Landing is one of three waterfront parks, located on the southern-most tip of Puget Sound. The park is a wonderful community meeting place for social interactions and celebrations, with a playground and boardwalk along the shoreline.

Per the City of Olympia’s website:

“Percival Landing Park was named after the old commercial steamship wharf, a well-known maritime landmark in the Pacific Northwest. The original dock, built by Sam Percival in 1860, was operated by the Percival Family. The first phase of Percival Landing, as we know it today, was completed and opened in 1978, phase two in 1985, and phase three in 1988.”

Kip Summers, Project Engineer for the City of Olympia Parks & Rec Dept., wanted to make products specifically for the Percival Landing project. Kip collaborated with FairWeather engineers to customize the Terrace Cafe’ Collection tables and chairs with “Percival Landing” laser cut into the table tops and the chair seats (shown below). The laser cut metal option is a wonderful addition to Tournesol Siteworks’ product lines, including memorial plaques, logos for decoration and customized additions.

Laser cut design

Many Terrace collection benches were installed in the playground area of Percival Landing, yet were specifically customized. The city project engineers wanted to ensure playground safety so the lengths of the benches legs were extended and mounted to the subsurface ten inches beneath the playground safety surface.

The community of Olympia enjoys the waterfront park’s restoration and were thrilled to maintain its historical significance. Percival Landing brings a peaceful environment that is welcoming and restful.

Taking care of (someone else’s) business…

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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!

 

Benches from Biloxi to Jupiter

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Tournesol Siteworks recently acquired FairWeather Site Furnishings, with a facility located in Port Orchard, WA. With the acquisition, comes new products and installations from across the country that Tournesol can now provide. The Washington facility will be our base for metal and wood fabrication.

Pacifica Collection bench  at JupiterFIRST Church’s Serenity Garden

We’ve learned a lot about the company as we’ve gotten to know them. One story we love is how a bench in Biloxi inspired a specification in Florida. FairWeather was specified and provided 20 of the Pacifica Collection benches for a project at the Gulf-Biloxi Regional Airport in Mississippi. The Pacifica benches were installed by Yates Construction and each 6 ft. backed bench was fabricated with 1/2″ x 2″ curved steel bar. The seat sections were fabricated with 1/4″ x 1-1/2″ steel straps.

Pacifica Bench at Gulf-Biloxi Regional Airport, MS

Landscape architect Howard F. Ostrout of Howard F. Ostrout and Associates of Jupiter, FL, was traveling through the airport and sat on one of the benches and thought to himself, “this is one of the most comfortable benches I’ve ever sat on.”

Curved Pacifica benches at JupiterFIRST Church’s Serenity Garden

Fast forward a couple of years to when JupiterFIRST Church in Jupiter, FL, contacted Mr. Ostrout to design a Serenity Garden for the church. He remembered how comfortable he was while sitting on the benches at the Gulf-Biloxi Airport so he reached out to FairWeather to use the same benches for the design.

Straight Pacifica bench at JupiterFIRST Church’s Serenity Garden

Howard requested modification of the Pacifica benches to match his concept for the design of the Serenity Garden. FairWeather changed the orientation of the steel straps in order for some of the benches to be curved, and added custom ergonomic seat sections.  The garden includes 6 curved and 10 straight steel strap benches in powder-coated Burgundy. JupiterFIRST Church continues to enjoy the beautiful surrounding of the Serenity Garden today.

 

Tournesol Siteworks Acquires FairWeather Site Furnishings

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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!

IUPUI Campus Refresh with Downtown, Urban and Zena

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This year, Tournesol Siteworks had the opportunity to help update the exterior of the Indiana University-Purdue University (IUPUI) campus, located in Indianapolis, Indiana. IUPUI is an urban public research university campus which houses Indiana’s two top, brilliant universities – Purdue and Indiana University. We visited back in August and captured a few great images at the campus.

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Downtown Collection planters in Shark at the IUPUI campus.

Landscape architects with Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf (BDMD), out of Indianapolis, specified our planters to help update and refresh the northwest corner of the campus that sits in the downtown area of the city. While collaborating with the university’s maintenance crew, BDMD choose planters from three of our popular collections – Downtown, Urban and Zena Collection.

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Downtown Collection planters in White.

All three of the collections were manufactured in lightweight GFRC concrete which is sturdy, but without the weight. When picking the texture, they considered the high traffic areas where the planters would be placed, and the wear and tear they would sustain. Our Tier 1, Natural Sand texture is a durable finish that can easily be refinished and repaired onsite. This detail was very important to the maintenance crew in order to keep the planters looking fresh.

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Zena Collection planter in Shadow.

An update and refresh will continue to take place moving forward, as the university replaces and freshens up the campus. BDMD has done a nice job so far bringing modernity to the exterior of the buildings. We look forward to possibly working with them in the new year.

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Urban Collection planters in Shark.

Miracle on 34th St – Blast from the Past!

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This week, our Northeast Sales Manager, Phil Sheldon, was in New York visiting a few customers. He had an opportunity to revisit our products on the streets of New York, that we delivered nearly 15 years ago, and see how well the planters are holding up.

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34th St. Partnership Planters NYC

Back in 2002, we rotationally molded custom LLD polyethylene planters for the 34th St. partnership, a business improvement district in midtown Manhattan. We began working with their designer, Ignacio Ciocchini, as he was looking at various materials for the pots. He started the discussion assuming the pots would be made in FRP fiberglass. We convinced him that plastic could be done attractively, and be far more durable than the fiberglass.

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The planters are still there and will celebrate 15-years on New York city streets. They look remarkably fresh, given the traffic levels that they have to withstand. They all look like they could use a good cleaning (lots of splotches, likely from dirt that has splashed up from the sidewalk or the street). Because we used a custom green matrix finish, the dirt isn’t as noticeable as it would be on a solid-color pot.

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Planters in front of Penn Station, NYC

The planters see a lot of abuse and are subject to everything that happens on the sidewalk. They are in many places, in front of hotels with the luggage carts that may bump into them, as well as Madison Square Gardens above Penn Station. Even with all the abuse, the planter units have very little scuffing or physical damage – just a lot of grime.

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These pots replaced custom cast concrete planters, that only lasted a few years. That is a testament (a miracle, have you) to the durability of the material in a extremely taxing environment!

San Francisco Shipyard Coming to Life

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The Hunters Point Naval Shipyard area in San Francisco, CA, is being transformed and will eventually be a residential extension of the Bayview neighborhood. This part of the city is up and coming, and is part of the city that outsiders see most rarely. The first phase of construction began in 2014, and first completed was a beautiful park for the community to enjoy. There will be residential housing that encompasses 800 units, and 20 acres of parks. Five residential units have been completed so far in this construction zone, and three more are underway, designed by four different architectural firms.

Block 51, Wilshire BOx Hanging Planters

One of the firms, Ian Birchall and Associates, specified Tournesol Siteworks products for the four-story condo building they designed. We referred to the project as Block 51 which has a large courtyard, accessible from the street. Inside the courtyard, IBA designed a modern wall of green vegetation beginning with our Wilshire Box Hanging Planters. Landscape contractors Shooter & Butts, Inc. installed the hanging planters on a metal wall with metal trellises where vines grow/climb up the wall.

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Courtyard of Block 51, Wilshire Box Hanging Planters

We design the hanging planters so that the product doesn’t take center stage – we prefer the plants steal the show. 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.

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The plants quickly grow and expand onto the trellis screens. Using our WB-1218 (12″W x 18″H in, 72″L and 96″L) boxes maximizes the room the plants can grow. Typically, the more soil there is in a pot, the bigger the plant will get (the roots expand as much as the upper part of the plant will). IBA also chose various sizes of our lightweight FRP Fiberglass planters from our Wilshire Collection now located around the perimeter of the building.

The installation looks amazing and we’re sure the tenants will enjoy their surroundings full of warmth and color.

 

 

Custom Thermally-Modified Wood Benches in Cambridge

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Tournesol Siteworks‘ products have been specified as part of the renovation plan for the Sidney Research Campus, named by owner BioMed Realty Trust, in Cambridge, MA. The center is designed for smaller companies in the biotechnology industry, committed to the discovery and development of breakthrough small molecule drugs for serious diseases. The research center comprises three properties, one at 200 Sidney Street in the Fort Washington Research Center which we blogged in April 2016.

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Sidney Research Campus Entrance

Architects at Arrowstreet Architecture and Design of Boston, collaborated with general contractors from The Richmond Group, out of Hopkinton, MA, on the beautiful building entrance. Arrowstreet designed cool, custom wood benches over cast-in-place concrete and specified Tournesol Siteworks for the custom bench construction. For more info on the original blog, read here.

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Custom Wood Benches Designed by Arrowstreet

At the 40 Erie Street location of the research campus, landscape architects from CBA Landscape Architects out of Cambridge, MA, collaborated with Arrowstreet on custom benches. They specified our Boulevard thermally-modified wood on powder-coated steel furring strips; the dimensions of the Boulevard Wood were custom with varying lengths.

Our Boulevard Wood goes through a process which changes the chemical make-up and cell structure of the wood. The process creates lumber with exceptional resistance to rot, pest, and decay. Technically, it shares a 25-year preserved-wood-like durability level similar to South American hardwoods, but is ecologically-friendly. The thermal-modification process also prevents moisture absorption (which is great for Cambridge’s varying weather) and makes Boulevard wood resistant to warp, twist and other movement.

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40 Erie Street Custom Wood Benches

The units were assembled completely at the Tournesol Siteworks facility in Union City, and shipped ready to be installed on site. Landscape contractors from Brightview (formerly Valleycrest) of Boston installed the custom benches and they look amazing!

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