Long bio format
Bryan’s lifelong dedication to landscapes and the environment is evident in One Nature’s diverse body of work, including gardens, parks of all sizes, campuses, agricultural land, and urban design. Regardless of size, he strives to bring out the potential for every project to inspire people through ecological design. Part scientist and part artist, his design methodology is place-based and relies on a sensitivity to the particular qualities of each location. As described by the author PJ Cronin, “Quinn could be called an artist, but not one whose work is shown in a gallery — or even indoors.”
Quinn credits numerous works of environmental literature, the American Earthworks art movement, and emerging concepts in applied ecology as sources of inspiration. The global environmental crisis, he believes, can be significantly improved if humanity were to embrace a stronger collective land ethic. This extension, as described by Aldo Leopold in A Sand County Almanac and later formalized in the Deep Ecology movement, allows human development to become neutral or positive influences on ecological integrity. His work, therefore, can be seen as an action-oriented exploration of ecological systems and their relationships to humanity.
As the founder of One Nature, Quinn promotes collaboration, creativity, and the individual multi-disciplinary talents of his staff through his inclusive working style. Quinn provides senior leadership on a wide range of projects, scientific studies, and plant propagation initiatives. Recent examples include the design and construction of Safe Harbors Green, the development of a Long Term Ecological Management Plan for Vassar College’s Ecological Reserve and Farm, and ongoing native plant production for New York City’s West-of-Hudson Reservoir network.
Raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and Chicago, Quinn experienced firsthand the impacts unchecked development of farms and wildlands as he developed his lifelong passion for fly fishing and watercolor painting. He attended Knox College (Galesburg, IL) to study environmental ethics and restoration ecology on the edge of Illinois’ Driftless Region. While there he participated in two semesters of off-campus field ecology programs on the remote west coast of Vancouver Island and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (Ely, MN).
While in school Quinn anticipated obtaining an advanced degree in conservation biology. But while travelling extensively throughout the American West he became disenchanted by the disconnect between the ongoing destruction of ecological systems and the general public. Seeking a more action-oriented path than academics, he joined the Peace Corps to serve as an agroforestry extension officer in a remote region in southeast Africa. While there he received formal training at Dedza College (Dedza, Malawi) in permaculture and community based natural resource management. For two years he worked with agrarian communities around the Chimaliro Forest Reserve. His role was to help residents develop non-timber forest products and expand organic farming practices. During this time and after, Quinn also travelled widely in Southern Africa and South Asia, at one point spending two months in Mysore, India to study Ashtanga yoga.
Inspired by the intimacy between land and people he found within agrarian culture in Africa and the ecocentric nature of religious architecture in India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, Quinn enrolled as a graduate student at the Rhode Island School of Design to obtain a Master’s degree in landscape architecture to develop a professional vocabulary for his own brand of ecological design. As a student Quinn twice won the college’s prestigious Athena Award of Excellence, multiple fellowships, and an independent travel grant to study urban agriculture in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city. He spent a summer working in the Vermont studio of the American sculptor Michael Singer, who with his staff explored extensively the intersection between art and ecological design. Quinn also worked extensively with the growing Urban Agriculture
After completing his graduate degree, Quinn moved to Brooklyn to work under New York City’s Bloomberg administration to design new city parks. Inspired by the administration’s commitment to open space within urban areas, he was also attracted to the well paid 35 hour government employee work weeks. This favorable work week allowed him to create and operate One Nature on nights and weekends. But after a year designing parks with the City he was promoted to a planning position which had no design responsibilities and increased workload. So he left to open a design division for a leading ecological consulting company, where he led the design of the largest freshwater wetland mitigation project ever constructed in the Hudson Raritan Estuary. During that time Quinn also joined the Board of Directors at the Gowanus Canal Conservancy (Brooklyn NY) during a critical period of that organization’s transition from one to six employees.
In 2012, Quinn left his consulting firm employer to become the first full time employee at One Nature. His initial projects included two different ecological master plans (in Stamford, CT and Bridgeport, CT), Environmental Planning for the Plus Pool (Brooklyn, NY), and a series of experimental brownfield to greenfield projects. In 2014, Quinn moved his studio from Brooklyn, to the Hudson Highlands in Beacon, NY and added several design/build Hudson Valley projects to One Nature’s project list. Also in 2014, One Nature purchased 1000 bare root native plants to begin a native plant nursery in Montgomery, NY. The nursery grew in 2015 and was awarded a contract with New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection to propagate native plants for restoration plantings in their West-of-Hudson Reservoir System. In 2016, Quinn led One Nature’s certification as a B Corp to solidify the company’s identity as a socially and environmentally activist company. In 2017, in response to the high price-point required for landscape design, Quinn started the One Nature Garden Center which supplies plants, materials, and know-how to the DIY Environmentalist community. Quinn lives in Beacon with his wife and two daughters, where he continues to lead One Nature’s day-to-day operations.