Our good friend and compadre Charles Quinlan has passed away.

Charles was Professor Emeritus of Architecture at CAL Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. He came to Arcosanti for his first workshop in 1975 and since then faithfully attended a workshop almost every year until 2007. He was a staunch supporter of Paolo Soleri’s work and came every summer to give a helping hand in construction.

A quiet and gentle man with a sparkle in his eye. I remember many summers and there he was, arriving in his van, ready to go to work, a familiar and welcome sight, “Hey, Charles is back”.

A hard worker always. I remember him teaching evening classes in camp to the young and old students, in the screened harbor, with long on-going discussions. 

So supportive in later years, he would send articles he found for the archives, and his Soleri collection was a welcome addition to the Soleri Archives here at Arcosanti.


Charles Quinlan, here with his wife and son, and Arcosanti resident Linda Fournier, at the Colly Concert in 2009.

Published in San Luis Obispo Tribune on Apr. 12, 2017:

Charles Quinlan Charles William Quinlan, age 87, died at home in San Luis Obispo, California on April 5, 2017.

He was born February 28, 1930, in Carbondale, Pennsylvania to William and Gertrude Quinlan. After High School, Charles worked as an Apprentice Draftsman for an Architect in New York City while attending Columbia University. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1950-1954 during the Korean War.

He then married Irene Jamison on February 14, 1954. The newlyweds moved to Ithaca, New York where Charles attended Cornell University from 1954-1959 and obtained a bachelors degree in Architecture. After graduation he worked as an Architect and taught Architecture at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

He moved his family to San Luis Obispo, California in 1966 after accepting a teaching position at California Polytechnic State University. He immensely enjoyed his students and teaching Architecture and City Planning from 1966 until his retirement in 1994. Charles took a sabbatical from 1974-1975 and moved his family to Sheffield, England where he taught part-time and completed his Master’s degree in Building Science at the University of Sheffield. He was also awarded the Distinguished Teacher Award from Cal Poly in 1974.

Charles was dedicated to Arcosanti, a unique city (Arcology) building project in Central Arizona dedicated to exploring architecture, alternative urban planning and our environment based on the designs of Paolo Soleri. He completed 25 summer workshops from 1975-2003.

He and his wife, Irene, were strong supporters of Pacific Light Opera and volunteered in various capacities and Charles had small acting parts. Charles also enjoyed being a Life Drawing class participant and volunteer for many years at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.

Mr. Quinlan is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Irene Quinlan; three children: Robert Quinlan, Patricia Quinlan-Margreiter and David Quinlan; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren; as well as a brother, Frank Quinlan. He was preceded in death by his sister, Dorothy Piche.

The cremation will be handled by Coast Family Cremation and the family will hold a private memorial gathering. In lieu of any flowers, you may make a donation in the deceased’s name to the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art at www.sloma.org. Sign his guestbook at sanluisobispo.com/obituaries – See more at this link.

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