Alastair Townsend

As an accomplished architect and experienced real estate professional, I’m driven to create innovative and sustainable projects that foster community, cultivate shared value, and respect the environment. 

  • Managed $2 billion of investment in developments across the U.S. at global real estate firm BGO.
  • Founded an architectural practice in Japan that attracted global attention and acclaim.
  • Served in leadership positions within Seattle’s real estate community, including the City of Seattle and ULI boards.
  • Featured on CNN, WSJ, NPR and other major media outlets for my design, writing, and expert insights.

Development Consulting

Straddling the intersection of architecture and real estate, my goal is to help bring exceptional projects to life.

I strive to deliver design-forward, economically viable solutions that enhance the communities they inhabit and support.

I offer my expertise as a consultant to organizations seeking to augment their team with a professional who can creatively and transparently articulate, advance, and advocate their interests. My skill set is comprehensive, encompassing:

  • Technical due diligence and site feasibility
  • Financial underwriting and analysis
  • Assembling and managing consultant teams
  • Acquiring entitlements and permits
  • Project budgeting and cost management
  • Construction contract negotiation and oversight
  • Environmental, sustainability, and governance (ESG) strategies

Whether it’s navigating the complexities of ground-up development or creatively transforming an existing space, I’m here to provide expertise. Let’s create inspiring places, together!

With a track record of overseeing $2 billion in development investments for BGO’s institutional investor clients, I bring a wealth of experience and expertise in managing real estate projects. My portfolio is diverse, encompassing industrial, multifamily and office development and repositionings throughout the U.S. Each project, some with budgets up to $100 million, has presented unique challenges that have refined my risk-management skills and fiduciary acumen.

My background in architecture, coupled with a Masters in Real Estate from the University of Washington, forms a solid foundation for my professional capabilities. Through my leadership roles in industry organizations, notably ULI, I have cultivated an extensive network that supports my endeavors at both a local and national level.


I completed my architectural studies at the Architectural Association in London, a renowned hub for creative experimentation. My final diploma project tackled the pervasive poverty of American trailer parks by proposing a fairer land trust development model paired with prefabricated homes I designed to be flexibly configured to form more socially cohesive communities. 

Following my graduation, I joined the Grimshaw, where I honed my skills as a 3D computer modeling specialist across numerous cutting-edge projects.

In 2008, I charted a new course, departing the UK to establish BAKOKO, a boutique architectural firm in Tokyo. BAKOKO’s innovative residential and office designs, as well as my writing on Japanese design, swiftly captured global attention. Working in Japan was not only an enriching privilege, it expanded my perspective. It illuminated the intersections between economics and design, invigorated my dedication to craftsmanship, and unveiled the potential of emerging technologies.

Writing & Editorial

My writings primarily focus on housing and design, interspersed with explorations into economics, computational geometry, and technological urbanism. 

My outsider’s perspective on Japan’s housing market has been featured by esteemed media outlets such as CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian. My article “Why Japan is Crazy About Housing” was Archdaily’s most read article in 2013, leading to numerous interviews including an episode of Freaknomics Radio and an invitation to lecture at Harvard University. I also had the privilege of collaborating with Japan’s premier architectural publisher, “A+U”, for a brief yet enriching period. Below are some highlights …

  • On the Spline

    On the Spline

    I recently published an academic paper answering the question: where do curves come from? I started this research well over a decade ago when I was working everyday with 3D design…


  • Why Japan is Crazy About Housing

    Why Japan is Crazy About Housing

    The following article about Japanese housing economics and how they motivate Japan’s penchant for experimental architecture first appeared on ArchDaily, where it quickly became one of their most popular articles. Unfortunately, copyright restrictions…


  • Precut – Modern Japanese Timber Construction

    Precut – Modern Japanese Timber Construction

    Industrially precut timber framing has become the predominant house construction method throughout Japan. In this first short documentary, produced by BAKOKO, we explain the process from factory floor to building site.…



The Urban Land Institute

  • Chair of Mission Advancement, aligning ULI Northwest’s agenda with the global organization’s priorities.
  • Founding Chair of the Seattle Programs Committee.
  • Starting as a Young Leader in Tokyo, I’ve been an enthusiastic ULI member since 2009.

City of Seattle Design Review Board

  • Honored to serve as Development Representative for Seattle’s East District from 2018 to 2021.
  • Evaluated numerous development proposals per city’s adopted design guidelines in a public forum.


I welcome you to contact me via email:

I am based in Seattle, Washington.