From the historic to the modern, the residential to the commercial, Culliton Quinn Landscape Architecture Workshop creates inspirational and sustainable environments.
Photograph by Jon Cancelino
Brian Culliton and Tony Quinn met in 1991 while studying landscape architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They further refined their impressive design skills working together for eight years with a North Shore design/build landscape architecture firm, where they gleaned the importance of integrating designed spaces into natural environments and the vital importance of client interaction. By the time they opened their own firm in 2004, their experience resulted in a focused approach to bringing unique and artful elements to a client’s living space that respond to the architecture and surrounding environment.
“We try to use local materials throughout our designs,” says Brian, co-founder of Culliton Quinn Landscape Architecture Workshop. “Focus on the master plan. Know what you’re going to be doing with the stormwater management, how you’re going to circulate around the house, use native and adaptive plants. Know every scope of the project, and it’ll make your garden last forever.”
All across the North Shore, down into the city, even into Indiana, Michigan, and Maryland, award-winning landscape architects Brian and Tony turn their clients’ properties into virtual wonderlands, utilizing engineering, plantings, walkways, water features, driveways, fences, pergolas, arbors, and lighting strategies. Through carefully considered design, an experienced team of consultants and contractors, indigenous materials, and plant life, they can sculpt your acreage into beautiful garden motifs. It’s entirely possible to achieve the sensation of a relaxing vacation in your own backyard. They’re also known for their expertise in recreating the grounds of historic properties, a specialty of vital concern for protecting these magnificent landmarks.
“We take the architecture and lay it into the landscape,” says Tony. “We design outdoor rooms with the plant material. Everything that we’re designing with the space reflects the architectural layout of the home.”
The design aspect of working with Culliton Quinn is the most important and exciting part of the process. Through conversation with the client, they review the many possibilities and creatively determine how best to realize their expectations. In fact, the word “workshop” exists in their name to emphasize the collaborative nature of their design process. Through research and photographic studies, it’s possible to present clients with conceptualized images of what the finished product may look like before work even begins. Landscape architecture is a very organic field, and it’s helpful to have people like Brian and Tony, who know how a space will look as it matures throughout the years, ensuring that there will be many wonderful surprises throughout the seasons.
Residential properties aren’t the only spaces that can benefit from the services of Culliton Quinn Landscape Architecture Workshop. They continue to work on the A.N. Pritzker School in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. They are generously volunteering their talents to transform the acres of asphalt into a more hospitable landscape in which the students can live and learn. “The worst thing for the city of Chicago is to have a property like that with 85 percent asphalt coverage,” says Brian. “We can take a lot of that asphalt out, create planting areas to provide shade cover, introduce pervious pavements, and create a great environment for the students. It’s difficult donating your time since most of the work needs to happen after hours, but if we’re going to donate our time, we’re going to donate it to a cause like this. It’s a very positive thing.”
The North Shore isn’t only where Brian and Tony work, it’s also where they come to get inspired. A visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden is one of the best places imaginable to gather ideas in terms of both design and plant material. Given the immense amount of material there, it’s the perfect place to see how certain specimens flourish in our Midwest environment. “They’re just unbelievable laboratories for us. We might be looking for a certain characteristic, at a specific height, in a certain bloom. We’ll go there and see if we can find the plant that would be perfect for a garden,” says Tony. “Millennium Park is amazing, too. The plant design is fabulous and even the hardscapes are really detail oriented.”
Brian and Tony also continue developing their knowledge through travel. They plan yearly trips, either locally or internationally, to tour landscapes, gardens, and cities for inspiration. These trips have included England, Germany, the Netherlands, Minneapolis, San Francisco, New York City, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. In addition to the Botanic Garden and Millennium Park, they continue to research and visit numerous historic and new parks, plazas, and public spaces throughout Illinois and the Midwest.
Culliton Quinn Landscape Architecture Workshop is located at 3052 West Carroll Avenue in Chicago. For more information, call 773-826-9091, or visit www.cullitonquinn.com.