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BDA Member Spotlight: Compton Design Office

November 18, 2021 - by Brooke Wilson

BDA Member Spotlight:
Compton Design Office

“We need to think proactively about our next steps into the future. What makes a great city is the desire to be present here, being in the community of others."
- Kay Compton, Co-Founder of Compton Design Office

Through her visionary leadership in architectural design for over 20 years, Kay Compton, co-founder of locally based Compton Design Office, guides her clients and design teams to realize the potential of each project without creative limits.

As future-oriented, big-picture thinkers in urban development, Kay shared how Compton Design Office has reimagined the role of architects and creators in a rapidly shifting social and professional landscape like Downtown Bellevue.

Together, our members support us in a collaborative mission to build lasting connections in the Downtown neighborhood and strengthen our urban core. 

BDA: Walk me through how your business got started and any signature projects people might recognize. 

Kay: Prior to starting our own practice in 2015 with my husband, I partnered with NBBJ running a commercial practice. Eventually, I became a toehold for the company in Bellevue after working on a few sites around town like The Bravern and Washington Square, which was one of the first major condominiums constructed Downtown. One of NBBJ's founders, Bill Bain, suggested that I look for other opportunities to get involved in the community and sign up to become a BDA member. In addition to serving on the BDA board, I also participate in the Land-Use and Livability committee and actively provide feedback to the planning department. I realized our clientele had concerns and interests they wanted to voice and express themselves, and by staying small and locally rooted we've become a vehicle for those clients. Our projects are varied in commercial and mixed-use construction, outsourced to a wide range of creatives and coordinated with fairly large firms, like Graphite Design Group on our West Main project for Vulcan and all three million square feet of Amazon's leased office space. 

BDA: In recent years, what major transitions have you noticed Downtown?  

Kay: I've seen extensive change since 2009, largely due to the sheer influx of people. Staring out the windows of Downtown high rises, the traffic and activity on the streets below has multiplied with additional pedestrian linkages like the Grand Connection to thoroughfare. While Bellevue has faced a certain stigma as not bohemian or eclectic as its Seattle neighbor, the Downtown environment has rapidly evolved into a hot commodity and created a distinctive appeal for an increasing number of employers, office workers, residents and tourists. It's turned into a city, as opposed to just a town. Within the industry, I've seen firsthand how often clients are priced out in our region, and to help support financial feasibility, I work with a land-use attorney and other consultants to improve accessibility and viable purchases.

BDA: What kind of growth and investments would you personally like to see for Bellevue in the years ahead?

Kay: Embrace mass transit! As a location surrounded by highways and water on one side, we could become locked in and congested. With greater equity and diversity of culture and people in mind, thoughtful approaches to the issues that befall most metropolitan areas will be vital. We need to think proactively about our next steps into the future. What makes a great city is the desire to be present here, being in the community of others.

BDA: How would you say your business has had a meaningful influence on Downtown? What has Compton Design Office provided that no one else has?

Kay: Knowledge and involvement with the city and local agencies through the years, matched by our design prowess, valuable contacts and relationships in the field.

Over 260 members have helped advance our commitments to empower a thriving Downtown through advocacy, member events and marketing campaigns. We invite you to join the growing number of members who fuel Downtown Bellevue as an exceptional place to live, work, play and visit. Interested in becoming a new member? Learn more or contact us!


Compton Design Office
2284 W Commodore Way
Seattle, WA 98199

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