2016 DCC Award Winner
Santa Cruz Roundabout, Tom Ralston Concrete

First Place: Multiple Applications, Under 5000 SF
First Place: Project Video

Tom Ralston Concrete, Santa Cruz, CA, was asked to help design the roundabout in front of the Santa Cruz Wharf near the beach boardwalk.

Rather than using unattractive and industrial feeling arrows, Ralston used dolphins to point traffic in the correct direction. "Leaping" dolphins go around and around pointing the way. Secondly, traffic Islands around the roundabout centerpiece are set in a nautical genre. An antique amber color with black barnacles and green seaweed give it a unique and organically oceanesque look. We also wanted to break it up with a nice aesthetic, so rocks were flipped up to resemble dorsal fins, and the mounds look like rock covered and bared by the tides. The islands have the look and feel of windswept dunes.

Traffic was a big issue. This is a four-way stop leading to the beach boardwalk, the wharf, and to scenic West Cliff Dr. On some weekends as many as 50,000 visitors drive through this area. It had to remain open, so traffic control was an issue.


The dolphins have embedded beach glass, seashells, and aquarium sand, and each has custom abalone eyes. They were acid stained in a way that gives them a variegated and organic look.

Logistics and Mix Design:

The dolphins had to be strong enough to be driven over by heavy trucks. We used our proprietary 5000 PSI mix design and they are holding up perfectly. The dolphins were made in 3-sizes: 8'; 6'; and 4' and weighed almost 1000 lbs. They were trucked in from Ralston’s yard, then craned in at dark so traffic was less of an issue. We used break away forms so when we lifted the dolphins only two pieces of plywood remained for the straps that surrounded them for hoisting. All dolphins were placed on strategically placed pillars sloped toward the street. These pillars allowed the concrete to flow around and under each dolphin for additional strength and support. We poured our proprietary mix around the dolphins as well, then moved on to building and creating the 12-splinter islands.

Splinter Islands:

The islands were fashioned into mounds of all different shapes and sizes with the same proprietary TRC mix. Each island has multi-colored acid staining and uses starfish, oyster shells, various seashells and small pebbles. In order to create veins that would not run down in errant patterns, we had to develop a system of staining. Four different varieties of large flat rock were turned on their sides and wind up and down throughout the mounds. They look like rock outcroppings on a windswept cliff.

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