While travelling the great Northwest, I stopped at a Courtyard by Marriott in Portland, OR. There on a terrace overlooking the Columbia river, much to my surprise, was an older installation of Stonewear lightweight concrete product. Along with a turnkey fountain and a large number of pots were some of the original Stonewear planter walls. The planters that they created were so large that they held four full-sized trees! While I’d seen images of this type of install, we haven’t done one since taking over the company in 2015.
The walls are manufactured in lightweight GFRC concrete, in our standard Barcelona fountain style. They are adapted from our monumental fountain construction, and are available in straight, corners and radiused pieces. Typically these walls are set on a concrete slab base poured specifically for this purpose, including drainage and irrigation sleeving.
The walls consist of three parts – a decorative outer wall, a structural inner wall, and a seat cap. The outer and inner walls are set in place, screwed together, then the seat cap adhered to the top. This installation was at least 15-20 years old (as you can see by the size of the trees), so it makes a durable and attractive alternative to building a CMU wall on site.
If you are interested in finding out more about alternatives to CMU built-in-place planters, speak with your Tournesol Siteworks salesperson.
The Hotel Del Coronado is an historic hotel that stands beautifully and majestically on the coast in Coronado, CA. Recently, green wall products from Tournesol Siteworks were chosen to help beautify the hotel entrance. From the hotel’s website,
Built in 1888 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, Hotel del Coronado is an American treasure with more than a century of stories to tell. The Del’s visionary founders, Elisha Babcock and H.L. Story, dreamed of building a seaside resort that would be “the talk of the Western world.” Since then, the resort has become a living legend, visited by celebrities, dignitaries and U.S. presidents.
Hotel Del Coronado contracted with landscapers from BrightView Landscape Development out of San Diego. For the project, the hotel wanted to create a living wall that would essentially beautify the view seen from the porte cochere. Prior to the project, if you turned around while standing at the front entrance, the view was not as attractive as the hotel desired (viewing the parking lot and vehicles).
Brightview reached out to collaborate with our partner Good Earth Plant Company, also from San Diego. Jim Mumford, from Good Earth, chose Tournesol Siteworks’ VGM Modular Living Wall System. He has worked with our VGM system quite often and states, “it’s my favorite for situations like this.” Jim says he doesn’t “have to worry that the VGM living wall will blow over.” The green wall is free-standing, and “people walk by the location of the green wall which is exposed to the elements, but the mounting brackets are sturdy” and able to withstand high traffic areas.
For the green wall, Good Earth utilized 140 VGM3 planting modules. Each module is made from 100% recycled plastic, attached to stainless steel rails with mounting brackets. They also utilized over 250 VGM Media Block for the soil and landscape fabric on the back side of the wall to keep it moist and to shade it from the beating sun during hot, sunny days. The modules were grown in at Good Earth’s facility prior to installation to provide instant, complete coverage for the living wall. With the VGM System, root growth isn’t limited by restricting cells or baffles so plants grow healthier and stronger.
However, there were a few hurdles Good Earth had to overcome prior to installation. Since the hotel is a historic landmark and iconic property, the Coronado City Design Counsel got involved to ensure the choice of plants and look of the green wall wouldn’t be too contemporary for the iconic property. The counsel carefully chose the exact plant varieties, sizes, styles and colors. This delayed the installation process and extended the usual three-month period for seven months. Prior to installation, the plants inevitably had to be trimmed but were installed in only one day!
Another hiccup was the large fire hydrant toward the middle of the wall. It had to remain, but the design of the living wall had to be designed around the fire hydrant. It wasn’t the look they were expecting but the size of the VGM modules mandated the space needed to encompass the hydrant.
Good Earth continues maintenance of this living wall, which is the key to keeping the green wall growing and lush. We’re thrilled that our VGM Green wall was chosen to help beautify this amazing, historical hotel – this green wall looks fantastic!
Downtown Boulder, CO, is a beautiful area surrounded by mountains and encompassed by trees. A few years ago, CBS Sunday Morning named Boulder “The happiest place in the United States.” The city has recently been undergoing some changes to modernize the curb appeal, and to freshen up the look and feel of the city for residents and tourists alike. At One Boulder Plaza, Tournesol Siteworks was specified by landscape architects from Studio Terra, out of Boulder, who collaborated with our distributor partner Streetscapes, from Denver.
One Boulder Plaza is a large plaza which spans the entrances to shops and dining, and includes a large space for entertainment and social gatherings. Studio Terra and Streetscapes chose our Downtown Collection planters to separate areas of the plaza, and to decorate various doorways and building walls.
Our Downtown Collection planters offer a wide opening and a tapered bottom, distinctive curve and soft corners with a classic appeal for the plaza; 60 planters were manufactured in lightweight GFRC concrete which is sturdy, but without the weight.
When picking the texture, Studio Terra considered the high traffic areas where the planters would be placed, and the wear and tear they would sustain. Our Tier 2, Acid Etch 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.
The Downtown round planter sizes varied overall: 20 planters are 36″Dia. x 24″H, 24 are 42″Dia. x 36″H, 5 are 48″Dia. x 24″H, and 11 are 60″Dia. x 24″H. Studio Terra and Streetscapes chose three colors, Shadow, Shark and Sandbox, that are dispersed between the sizes and added a stunning presentation to the plaza.
Since our acquisition of FairWeather Site Furnishings, (facility located in WA, which is now our base for metal and wood fabrication) we’ve enjoyed sharing the stories of projects and installations. A few years ago, the City of Tacoma, WA, wanted to improve the amenities in the various city districts, including the Dome District. The Dome District in Tacoma emerged in the 1880’s but was originally known as the East School neighborhood due to a large elementary school. Railroad access eventually transformed the district bringing transportation, cars, gas stations, shops and restaurants. Renamed a few times, “Dome District” stuck when the Tacoma Dome was eventually built.
The dome brought life to the district and many older buildings were revitalized, namely Freighthouse Square. For the Dome District revitalization project, the City of Tacoma wanted benches and receptacles installed along sidewalks and building fronts throughout the district, including in front of Freighthouse Square.
FairWeather was specified by the City of Tacoma desiring the Tradition Collection benches; Victorian-style benches with refined, full contour seat sections made with Ipe wood (optional) and enhanced by the circular details of the ductile cast iron end frames (shown above). Ipe is a hardwood that works well for exterior use and was useful for this project, since the weather in the Pacific Northwest tends to be fairly wet year-round. The city also wanted three Plaza Collection Steel Strap Receptacles, which are manufactured with open tops, and rings at the top and bottom of the receptacles. Tacoma chose domed tops to finish off the look of the Plaza receptacles which included 35 gallon black Polyethylene Liners.
Later, the City of Tacoma specified our B-5 Bollards which were installed by Gary Merlino Construction Company. Our steel B-5 Bollard Collection features decorative steel bollards with an asymmetrical top and collars for a sharp, distinctive look (shown in the image above).
Of the three mounting configurations available (removable, permanent embed or surface mount) Merlino Contstruction installed the steel B-5 Bollards with a concrete fill cap and heavy schedule 80 steel pipe as permanent embed. The bollards are used for security purposes and force protection on various streets and in front of the dome (shown above).
On the 7th floor of the building at 1000 West Fulton Market in Chicago, IL lies an amazing roof deck. The project, named 1K Fulton, contains an immense roof deck and amenity space designed by site landscape architects principal Hana Ishikawa. This Chicago based firm created a beautiful roof deck setting encompassing green roof plantings, decking, planters and site furnishings, where the building’s tenants can gather at any time to enjoy the Chicago skyline.
At the beginning of this project, Hana and her team started with a clean slate and began the conceptual designs for the rooftop before a tenant was found. As the design progressed, a tenant with a series of specific requirements leased the space. Site revised the design to meet the client’s needs, LEED requirements, as well as the city’s construction stipulations. Site was also challenged to correctly configure the occupancy of the roof deck due to the fact that the amenity deck had only two exits. A complicated project!
Another challenge was the client’s desire to shift the focus of the deck away from the building and toward the skyline. Site divided the roof deck with grasses,planters, seating areas, and screened the side of the deck along the building. Site specified Tournesol Siteworks’ Wilshire Collection planters which allowed Hana to divide the large areas into sub-areas for more privacy and helped direct the roof deck visitors’ viewing area away from the building and onto the city skyline.
The 72″L x 72″W x 42″H Wilshire planters were installed by Robert Ebl, Inc., out of Carol Stream, IL.Illino Of the 43 specified planters, 42 of them contained scoops, one of our planter options. Scoop is a feature added to Wilshire Collection planters that allows multiple individual modular units to appear to form a continuous planting area. Adjacent planter walls are lowered and may be sealed in the field with the recommended Scoop Connection Kit, which allows for a continuous layer of soil and planting above.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
The ASLA ’16 Expo in New Orleans was a hit! It was good to see everyone, and thank you to those who stopped by our Tournesol Siteworks booth to say hello and see our new product offerings, like the accessory pockets, and our Thermally-Modified Boulevard Wood products. There were many architects and landscape architects in attendance, while the sessions allowed learning and collaborating, to take place. We’re already looking forward to next year’s expo in Los Angeles.
While we were in town, we took the opportunity to visit a few projects that Tournesol Siteworks has participated in and we admired the final installations of our products. 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.
Our group also visited the Omni Riverfront Hotel where Forstall Interiorscapes, in New Orleans, specified planters from our Urban Collection in squares and rectangles. Forstall installed the planters after choosing our Metal Matched Paint in the color iron, from our various options of materials and finishes. The MMP Iron color mimics the look of our more expensive metal-infused pots. The MMP painted colors, unlike the real metals, won’t change over time, providing predictability for commercial applications.
Another visit was to the VA Hospital in New Orleans where our Wilshire Box Hanging Planters were installed, and specified by landscape architects from Rotolo Consultants Inc. The 45 rectangular hanging planters are in various lengths, yet all are 18″W x 36″H and cover the parking structure horizontally.
Our sales and marketing team had a great time in New Orleans enjoying the landscape architecture, history, architecture, music, food, culture, and atmosphere. Can’t wait to return!
In Concord, CA, the Willows Shopping Center has been receiving a remodel for the past few years. Many architects, contractors, and landscape architects have been called to help beautify specific sections of this sleepy shopping center, and modernize the area for the community of shoppers and diners. One project in particular involved upgrading the exterior of Fuddruckers restaurant. Johnson Lyman Architects, out of Walnut Creek, specified our Boulevard Wood Planters for the front entrance of the restaurant.
Tournesol Siteworks’ wood planters were installed by Lenzi Incorporated, out of Stockton, and arranged as a decorative barrier along the length of the dining area (shown in the photo below). Each planter is 48″L x 18″W x 36″H and has been beautifully planted with various succulents.
Our wood planters are produced from Boulevard thermally-modified wood which goes through a process that 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 and makes Boulevard wood resistant to warp, twist and other movement. Over time, weathering will reveal the wood’s natural patina to a silver, grayish color.
As the Willows Shopping Center continues to be remodeled and renovated, we look forward to seeing the outstanding results.