Featured in the Seattle Times: Light House on Puget Sound

Builders & Developers

Known for designs both highly functional and profitable for his clients, Carl Colson has worked closely providing architectural services for national and Seattle area developers and contractors for over 30 years planning and designing single family, multi-family, and mixed-use residential projects as well as commercial and retail facilities.

Carl routinely helps his clients’ projects exceed their financial expectations with his blend of creative design ability and experience. On a number of planning projects Carl has created site plans with 3 to 5 additional units or lots compared to the owners’ previous plans. Always aware of the financial investment developers make in their projects, Carl diligently and efficiently creates functional and appealing designs for sites and buildings. Local planning firms often consult with Carl when they need a fresh perspective on their projects and site planning strategies. He helps them find ways to make their plans more functional and more marketable.

Carl firmly believes that a team approach benefits all parties involved. For this reason, he maintains excellent working relationships with contractors that ease the process of solving the unique challenges found on every project. Developers and contractors appreciate Carl’s attention to detail, especially his thorough and accurate construction documents.

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For the past twenty years Carl Colson’s practice has focused on residential and mixed-use projects. In 30+ years of experience, Carl has done it all – or nearly so. His projects range from 23-story office buildings to kitchen remodels and everything in between. His portfolio encompasses residential (single and multi-family), commercial (offices and hotels), and retail uses.

Having designed projects containing hundreds of units, Carl excels at managing the design process, and at discovering design opportunities. He produces quality construction documents that minimize surprises and keep construction costs within realistic project budgets by minimizing unnecessary costs.

Every architectural project has its own requirements that call for a unique combination of services. Carl Colson | Architect provides the following services:

  • Planning
  • Master planning of residential communities
  • Site selection & analysis
  • Site design for residential & commercial projects
  • Zoning analysis
  • Feasibility studies
  • Zoning and permit applications & planning department hearings
  • Public Presentations (as required by planning authorities)
  • Architectural
  • Feasibility Studies (“Does this project make sense for the client’s needs?”)
  • Code Research & Analysis
  • Architectural Design
  • Construction Documents
  • Permitting
  • Construction Administration
  • ADA & Handicapped Accessibility Planning & Design
  • Adaptive re-use of existing buildings
  • 3-Dimensional Computer modeling (BIM)
  • Architectural renderings
  • Interiors & Space Planning

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Carl has designed hundreds of units in numerous multi-family and mixed-use projects. These projects have ranged in size from a townhouse project with 3 units to mixed-use projects with over 120 residential units and thousands of square feet of retail space.

When he designs multi-family projects, Carl gives the same care and attention to designing the building and interior layouts of the units as he does to single-family homes. He believes residents of multi-family projects desire many of the same features as single-family home dwellers.

Multi-family projects have unique challenges and opportunities. Carl relies on his familiarity with the design challenges and construction techniques of these buildings to provide his clients with units that are very appealing, cost efficient, and therefore very marketable.

His multi-family designs are characterized by their efficiency and for appearing more spacious than they are. Residents of projects Carl has designed have found their units to be much more appealing than those found in other multi-family developments.

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Mixed-use projects can create a blend of two dissimilar uses in such a way that both profit in their relationship with one another. Combining residential uses with retail space can create very efficient projects that are visually appealing, extremely marketable, and function well. Carl has designed several mixed-use projects that have been very well received and have been quickly approved by the planning departments required to review these projects for approval. In addition, Carl has created the design for a mixed-use project that combines a medical office building and commercial retail space.

Carl is so knowledgeable about the construction techniques and assemblies required by this project type, that his clients have benefited from his very thorough construction documents which often reduce the time needed for permit.

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Site planning

A successful residential subdivision or Planned Residential Development (PRD) depends upon the site design, the building design, and how well they work together. To create a successful site design and lot layout, the planner must consider both the physical characteristics of the land and the non-physical factors imposed upon the site.

    The physical factors include:

  • Lot size, shape, and dimensions;
  • Lot orientation – where is it located and what are the surroundings?
  • Topography – does the lot have slopes, wetlands or critical areas?
  • Views – how can we maximize any views?
  • Easements – how does their location and use affect the layout?
    The non-physical factors include:

  • Zoning and Planning Department restrictions and requirements (density, lot coverage, setbacks, heights, uses allowed)
  • Stormwater and Wetland Area regulations

Carl has developed many successful site designs for projects ranging from single-family lots to residential developments of more than 100 lots per development. Whether designing a site plan for a cottage development of 11 units or a neighborhood with more than 100 lots, he gives the same careful thought to planning a development that is very appealing to buyers, and as a result, is a financial success for the developer.

He has worked closely with civil engineers, wetlands biologists, and soils engineers in developing successful site plans that meet developers’ needs while also meeting the criteria required by the local planning and zoning authorities. Carl has learned the applicable planning and zoning codes and how to apply them for the benefit of the owner and developer.

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Residential Development Planning

Carl has been actively designing residential developments for the past 13 years. He works with developers to design a very desirable living environment for a target market of buyers. These projects have been highly successful marketable developments with residents who are delighted with the neighborhood and their units.

Carl has developed the master site planning and building designs for residential developments containing hundreds of units. The site plans achieved higher density, while allowing for unit layouts and exterior designs that appeal to the residents and surrounding properties.

He has worked on a number of Planned Residential Developments (PRD) which provide the unit density of multi-family projects with detached single-family homes as the units. Builders and developers use these layouts to avoid the liability issues associated with attached multi-family units. These units are very similar to townhouse units, except that they do not share a common wall with adjacent units – they are completely free standing units.

Many of the houses designed for these PRD units are 2 and 3 story and have extremely efficient floor plans with amenities found in more expensive homes. Carl believes that buyers of these affordable homes deserve dwellings that are appealing and very functional. Even though many of the units are 3 stories and of narrow width, he has designed the exterior elevations to have proportions and detailing like a cottage resulting in very visually appealing homes.

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Commercial & Retail Design

Prior to opening his own firm in 2000, Carl provided design services and construction document services for several architectural firms for a wide variety of commercial and retail projects. These projects include high rise office buildings, hotels, resort buildings, municipal buildings, and a wide variety of retail stores. These retail projects ranged in size from small retail stores and lease spaces from 800 s.f. to 75,000 s.f. retail stores for national retail brands. His services included site design, building design, construction document preparation, and construction administration services.

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