The Benefits of Working with a Landscape Architect

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Every great outdoor living space starts with a plan. At least, this is how Brian Murphy, Landscape Architect at Torrison Stone & Garden sees it. Long before the sod is rolled out and the polymeric sand is smoothed over the paver joints, Brian takes the client’s wish list, applies his creative vision and designs a one-of-a-kind plan that, more often than not, exceeds their expectations.  

Torrison’s Landscape Architect

Brian is a licensed landscape architect and a Connecticut Accredited Nursery Professional. He graduated from the University of Connecticut where he majored in landscape architecture. After graduation, he worked in a Fairfield County firm for four years. The experience taught him that his passion was in seeing his projects through to the build phase, rather than just simply creating designs. “You don’t necessarily see what you do as much when you’re not installing it,” he explained. “There’s a satisfaction in actually seeing a project come full circle.” Brian worked for a design build company for 11 years before he crossed paths with Tyler Gerry. The two started working together on a few projects, and officially joined forces in 2015. Torrison Garden was launched that year, and Brian Murphy, along with Suzanne Carlson Zengel, became managing partners of this new division.  

Brian’s 3D designs and professional architectural plans have become an important part of Torrison’s repertoire of services. His designs have successfully propelled the company into a whole new league in terms of the size projects it can now handle. This became apparent in 2017 when Torrison won the bid to revitalize Middletown’s Palmer Field sports complex – an 8-month, all-hands-on-deck project, the company’s largest to date. But, when asked, Brian’s favorite projects are the ones a little closer to home – residential backyards where his clients spend their quality time with friends and family. “I like creating spaces that people are going to be able to sit in and relax and enjoy. There are so many cool things that we are now putting into these outdoor spaces, from pavilions and pergolas to kitchens and fire features,” he said.   

Collaboration & Quality Control

At Torrison, the design process always begins with a site visit. A landscape architect will take measurements, photos and discuss the client’s vision for their project at this first meeting. It’s helpful for the client to have information such as zoning setbacks, as-built survey maps, septic and well as-built maps and a proposed budget. The design-build approach to landscape architecture starts with a partnership between the client and the architect. This is so important, and also guarantees quality control throughout the process. 

The next step is a showroom appointment at our showroom in Durham. “For some clients, this is their first visit to our showroom. “It’s always fun to get them here to really show them what we can do in person with the outdoor showroom, and have the opportunity to present their design in a more formal way. We put the project up on the large screen and discuss the various elements. At that point, any changes are going to be addressed.” In addition to a straight forward black and white site plan, Torrison’s landscape architects are able to bring your custom design to life with a 3D rendering. Clients can experience their projects in a way that incorporates all stone and landscape elements – right down to seasonal changes of their garden plantings. 

Value Engineering

Another great benefit of working with a landscape architect is value engineering. For example, when approaching the customer’s budget, the architect will know where to find flexibility in the design. Modifying design elements or materials with the knowledge of the methods and costs involved is invaluable to the client.

Best Materials at the Best Price

Direct sourcing for the best materials at the best price is another advantage Brian is able to offer his Torrison clients. An architect from a design-only firm may incorporate a particular tree into his design only to find out, weeks later, that the tree is not readily available, or that the pricing has changed. Because Brian is in touch with current costs of materials and inventory from trusted suppliers, he is able to use this knowledge to his clients’ advantage, saving time and money.  

Brian explains that listening to what the client is saying (and sometimes what they are not saying) is extremely important to the design process. “Sometimes you have to take chances as far as your design goes,” explains Brian. “I had one client hand me a sketch of what he was thinking. It was just a very loose amoeba patio, it really had no formal structure.” Brian explained that while the man was showing him this sketch, what he was explaining to Brian was completely different. “So I kind of went out on a limb and designed something a lot more formal,” said Brian. “It had curves, obviously, because I think the curves were an important piece to him, he just didn’t know how to execute them.” That’s where Brian’s expertise and talent come into play. The client loved the design. “It was actually a really cool project,” he says.  

A third and final design meeting may happen at the showroom again, or at the client’s property. This is when design revisions are addressed and materials, appliances and features are finalized. This is also when Brian will usually address the project timeline and outline of the work schedule. Many times, a stone project manager will be at this meeting to review the elements of the project that will involve his masons and crew.  

Efficiency is Key

This is another understated advantage of using a landscape architect that is affiliated with a specific company. At Torrison, our architect works closely with our project managers and our masons to ensure a seamless transition of information from client to the crews that are installing project components. Our crews are accustomed to working with our architect and vice versa. The benefit: budget dollars saved through efficiency. Keeping all phases of the project under one roof, so to speak, reduces the potential for confusion.  

Not all projects require the expertise of a landscape architect. Torrison’s office staff can help you determine whether or not you could benefit from this service. Working with a landscape architect is the best way to pull together a variety of project elements into one seamless design that blends utility and aesthetic. We want to help bring your creative vision to life!