Coffee Break! Today’s Topic: Meet Brian Starkey

Leslee Oliver By: Leslee Oliver

With Timmons Group’s recent merger with obs landscape architects in Raleigh, NC, I grabbed coffee at BREW Coffee Bar with Brian Starkey. Brian was the leader of obs since it was first founded in 1994 and is now the Director of Landscape Architecture in North Carolina for Timmons Group. Brian and his team led and developed a diverse portfolio of projects for corporate, private, institutional, non-profit and public clients. I sat down with him today to find out more about him, his team, and what’s ahead for Timmons Group’s landscape architecture in North Carolina.

Q. Thanks for sitting down with me today. I know it’s only been about 5 weeks since the announcement of the merger, but I want to know, what is it like going from a four-person firm for over 20 years to a 550+ person firm?
(Chuckling) There are certainly many things to get used to. It’s a significant transition and is sometimes overwhelming. However, it is so exciting to expand our capabilities with a likeminded firm like Timmons Group. Myself, Lauren Dickson, Jon Blasco and Michael Alderman are excited about the opportunities it’s already presenting.

Q. If there’s one thing you want your obs clients to know after the recent merger, what is it?
That the obs team has not changed – we’ve only expanded. Our seamless service, talents and abilities are still intact, but now we have the addition of more landscape architects, civil engineers, surveyors, transportation planners, etc. Like I said, there have been numerous changes over the last five months, but what remains the same is our “let’s do it” mentality. Joining forces with Timmons Group will help us serve our clients more comprehensively while continuing our emphasis on design and creating meaningful and engaging places.

Q. What’s one thing Timmons Group clients can expect to be different after the recent merger?
Our clients will have more access to placemaking, design and sustainability expertise that we can apply to all project types to create a comprehensive experience for the people and communities using those spaces.

Q. What is one thing that would surprise us to know about you and your career?
How many diverse projects we were able to complete at obs in terms of size and type, which most are surprised to hear from a four-person firm. For example, we completed the master plan for Hanging Rock State Park in Stokes County, NC, Recycling Facilities in Wake County, White Deer Park in Garner, NC, and the State Fair Grounds Master Plan in Raleigh, NC.

Q. What are you most proud of?
There are three things that come to mind. The first would be repeat clients and relationships. It is the biggest compliment when clients return to work with us again. The second thing is my staff, how they advanced our firm, their ambition, and how they’ve helped us all succeed. Third is the work we’ve done and how it has shaped so many communities.

Q. How do you encourage creative thinking on your team?
By giving every employee an opportunity to grow and advance their skillset. This is done by providing them experiences through professional development, like the ASLA National Conference we are attending in a few weeks, or exposing them to new ideas, trends, and design solutions.



Q. If you were not a landscape architect, what would you be?
An environmental science or art teacher or a stone mason.

Q. What was your first job?
Paper Boy in Ohio. First job after graduating college was being part of the grounds crew at the Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, which was the home of the founder of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.

Q. When you’re not working, what are you doing?
Drawing or Sketching, Traveling

Read more about the merger here.