Tag Archives: streetscape

Queen Anne’s Playful Uptown Parklet

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Parklets are popping up all over the country, especially in major cities, and are beginning to change the pedestrian environment. These little “mini parks” have allowed the community to build public spaces for meeting, socializing, and as urban oases. Parklets have become really popular due to PARKing Day, a nation-wide celebration day rivaling the automobile-focused environment. It’s a day where the public takes back urban street parking slots and creates temporary parks filled with designers, artists and people seeking community interaction.

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Two years ago, the city of Seattle was challenged by PARKing Day and recognized its success in other cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. Since the city sought to create a number of parklets all over Seattle, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) announced its Pilot Parklet Program. The program opened an application process for communities and neighborhoods to submit for a parklet to be constructed in their urban area.

Seattle’s VIA Architecture, on behalf of VIA’s Community Design Studio, worked with a civic organization called The Uptown Alliance (which represents the Uptown Urban Center) to submit an application for the Queen Anne district. The “Uptown Parklet” was selected as one of 10 parklets and was fortunate enough to be one of the first constructed as part of the pilot program. Slater Construction, out of Seattle, worked with the team of designers, community volunteers and architects to build this parklet, completed in February 2015.


We revisited this cool parklet this month (March 15), which features Tournesol Siteworks’ Boulevard Wood for the decking, benches and planter cladding. Our Boulevard thermally-modified 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.

Weathering reveals the wood’s natural patina to a silver, grayish color (as shown in the photo above). The thermal-modification process also prevents moisture absorption (which is great for Seattle’s occasionally wet weather) and makes Boulevard wood resistant to warp, twist and other movement.


Th Uptown Parklet is the perfect place for our Boulevard wood, with the public interaction, environmental exposure and continual community use. The wood has withstood wonderfully! We’re so glad that the Queen Anne district is enjoying their Uptown Parklet…go Seattle!

A lightning-fast upgrade: First Street, Downtown Phoenix

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The City of Phoenix recently spent over a half-million dollars on street improvements, decorative sidewalks, new trees and pedestrian-friendly upgrades along First Street in downtown. The goal was to make the area more pedestrian friendly and inviting to convention attendees and tourists.firststreet3*304

The First Street road and sidewalk improvements run from Washington to Moreland Street and include 86 of our SeaCrest Series planters with built-in container irrigation. A similar quantity of pots was required for a different streetscape area as well. The SeaCrest Series is made differently than most other collections we feature here – they are rotationally molded of linear low-density polyethylene plastic (instead of FRP fiberglass or GFRC concrete). This allows us to make the SeaCrest as a double-wall unit, and integrate the self-watering system.

IMG_2674The city contractor who contacted us wasn’t specifically looking for the SeaCrest Series pots.  Instead, they approached us with a very tight deadline to get pots into place. Because a project of this size is made to order, and the FRP and GFRC process is relatively slow (one pot per mold per day), we needed a solution that could be turned around faster. When rotationally molding, we can make up to 5-6 pieces per day. The throughput of the process allowed us to get the project done on time.


We also had to custom blend the material to match our painted apple color. There are two different ways to match colors in plastic – use an integrally colored base material, or “dry blend” pigment in with naturally translucent base material. The nature of the exposure, abuse, longevity and color consistency demanded we use the more time- and cost-intensive integrally colored material. We received the order on the 10th of the September, and were able to ship the entire project within 30 days – thanks to our hardworking manufacturing team.

The transformation must have helped – First Street has been transformed  into a pedestrian promenade that celebrates food and art in the desert during their Feast on the Street.


The day that we were taking the pictures happened to coincide with watering day. Given that the city had paid for the benefit of our unparalled container irrigation system, we were curious to see if they were using it. Answer: No.  The young man (below) uses the browse head to water the plants, ignoring the tamper resistant stopper and the reservoir. It is one of the more frustrating parts of our business – you can lead a horse to water, but you just can’t make them drink.  This probably could be laid at our door – maybe we didn’t do enough to train them on the use of the system. Nevertheless, the watering system is tailor-made for a place like Phoenix, and it seems a waste that it isn’t being used.

At least the product design delivers value. The double-wall provides insulation for the plants from the hot desert air, and the durable plastic will hold up to anything that the street throws at it. We were glad to help the city when they needed the material, and pleased it looks so good!


How the Middletown (CT) Downtown Business District stretches its street planter maintenance budget

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Summer planting at the City of Middletown, CT

Every day we hear the stories of public maintenance budgets shrinking.  Check with almost any city park & rec department and they’ll lament the fact that they can’t keep up in the face of cuts.  The Middletown (CT) Downtown Business District found that by using Tournesol Siteworks’ container irrigation system they could make their color program budget stretch further. They use our CWF container irrigation bowls with existing concrete containers, changing them out with each season. In the words of Marie Kalita-Leary, Director of the Middletown Downtown Business District:

Tournesol Siteworks irrigation systems were the end to our nightmare.  The only way to get water to our planters was to use manual labor via a wagon.  On hot summer days it  required hours and hours of work to water all the planters along our Main St.  The irrigation system from Tournesol Siteworks have saved us so much and brought us so much.  During warm weather spells in the summer, I know that planters are receiving the water they need – and – the flowers look great from the minute they are planted.  We save on labor and staff time.  A landscaping company fills the systems with water and checks them weekly.  Because the flowers and plants are receiving the nourishment they need, when they need it, we always have full and gorgeous flowers in our planters.  I highly recommend the irrigation systems by Tournesol Siteworks.

more images of their color program after the break


Monroe, WI, “Swiss Cheese Capital of the U.S.A.”, adds planters to their downtown streetscape

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Basix Collection BS-3000 planters in Mesa Matrix finish

This spring we furnished 40 planters to the City of Monroe, WI, as part of their Main Street Beautification program. Monroe, as I just learned from their website, is the “Swiss Cheese Capital of the U.S.A.”.  More images and information after the break.


Avalon at Mission Bay – San Francisco, CA

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Wilshire Collection rectangles WR-962424

Sometimes more is not less.  For the Avalon Apartments at Mission Bay in San Francisco, PGADesign went for a simple Wilshire Collection fiberglass (frp) rectangle for the accent planters along the street fronts of this glass curtainwall building.  By using the 24″x24″ profile, the architect gave the unit enough “punch” to make a statement in this fast-developing section of San Francisco.  The planters were installed by Valleycrest Landscape, the same folks that installed the planters in the last post, 211 Main.  More images after the break.


The Greening of San Jose, Part 2

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downtown san jose 006The City of San Jose has put over 300 planters in its downtown district during the past year, and nearly all of them have been manufactured by Tournesol Siteworks. The previous post showed the most recent installation of custom Urban Collection and Wilshire Box hanging planters.  This post highlights previous work done in the same downtown area. Read more >>