Specialty: Retail, hospitality, corporate, health care, residential, mixed-use
Management: William B. Karst, CEO; Robert Tindall, president; Steve Epple, COO
Year founded: 1975
Headquarters: Seattle
Current projects: Washington Mutual headquarters and new Sheraton Tower in Seattle; The Bravern in Bellevue; several projects with Vulcan, Microsoft and Boeing

Image courtesy Callison
Callison expects to finish designs in December for The Pearl of the Gulf, a $2.5 billion man-made island in Qatar, with 28 residential towers and a super-yacht marina.

Callison CEO Bill Karst says all of the firm’s markets and all its locales are running at “fever pitch.” Revenues grew about 30 percent last year to $103 million. Staff expanded 16 percent to 550 employees.

About one-fifth of Callison’s work is in the Puget Sound region, and the majority is in the United States. But at 28 percent last year, the share of international work was the highest the firm has ever done.

11 projects in China

In the last year and a half, Callison has opened offices in Shanghai, Los Angeles and New York City, and is currently increasing its staff in London.

‘(Residential work is) the cash engine, because you can sell condominiums early in the development process.’

--William Karst,


The firm is working on 11 projects in China, mostly retail and mixed-use; it recently opened an 850,000-square-foot department store in Osaka, Japan, the city’s largest.

The Pearl of the Gulf project in Qatar, on the Arabian peninsula, is the biggest that Callison has completed to date. Callison will wrap up the design process in December on the $2.5 billion man-made island-city that features 28 residential towers and a marina for super-yachts.

Developers globalize

Almost all of the firm’s international projects incorporate residential work.

“It’s the cash engine, because you can sell condominiums early in the development process,” Karst said.

Economic growth throughout Asia is putting pressure on raw material prices and tightening labor markets. It’s not just China, Karst said.

“India and the Middle East are right behind it,” he said. “There really isn’t a dead zone in the global market.”

Karst has noticed globalization among developers and investors. U.S. investors are spreading out beyond the United States and Europe, while Indian and Chinese developers are branching out around the world as well.

He said the frenetic growth is making developers wince at prices and become impatient for results.

Callison has had to be selective in the projects it takes on, despite its ongoing recruitment of more talent. On the residential side, the firm has had to ask for more time to get projects done than developers are used to.

Karst said growing the firm any faster than its current pace couldn’t be considered rational.

Copyright ©2005 Seattle Daily Journal and DJC.COM.
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