Wolff Lyon Architects is an architecture, urban design, planning, and development consulting firm with over thirty years of experience. The firm was founded by John Wolff and Tom Lyon in 1975 as a design, construction and development firm focusing on small urban infill projects in Boulder, Colorado.

Today, Wolff Lyon specializes in five areas of design:


MASTER PLANNING AND DESIGN for traditional neighborhoods with particular attention to building, lot, and block


HOUSING PROTOTYPE DESIGNS for specific models and
styles that can be employed to create varied streetscapes and
respond to different households.


AFFORDABLE HOUSING architectural design, including public
housing revitalization and innovative mixed-density solutions.

DESIGN GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS that utilize a flexible Transect-based approach and include Regulating Plans and specific instructions for neighborhood, architectural, thoroughfare, and landscape design.
MIXED-USE DESIGN where residential and commercial uses are
mixed together both horizontally and vertically, often in sensitive existing contexts.



During the early years of our practice, we physically built most of the projects that we designed. As the complexity of our practice grew, this became impossible. However, our hands-on knowledge of construction and costs still ensures that realistic schedules and budgets will be created and actually realized.



Our professional work has led us from small projects where we controlled and built every detail to the larger problems of affordable housing and town making. This fusion between large and small, between design and construction, between architecture and planning has been at the core of our professional lives for a quarter of a century. In our quest to create healthy and sustainable new neighborhoods and towns, we have learned how zoning and a host of other regulations shape the buildings and communities we design. Along the way, we have learned when to compromise and when to fight for the important principles and details that create good places.

We believe that form and good composition are important to any successful design solution, but the results are often more compelling when larger planning and livability issues have been addressed. Individual buildings and their detailing are important to us, but over the years we have become more and more interested in the relationships between buildings and in the public and private spaces that buildings can create. Our special mission is to bring the understanding and eye of the architect to these larger issues of community and town making.

Our inquiry into that which is enduring in architecture and design has led us to confront the difficult issue of how to provide the qualities and amenities that make for great neighborhoods while still providing affordable housing opportunities. We soon realized what we were really addressing was an investigation in understanding community. We continue to explore how physical design solutions can help promote sense of community and provide the setting where random and casual neighborly interaction can occur.

Providing an appropriate mix of uses within a neighborhood, as well as sensitively integrating new buildings into existing urban contexts, are two of the key pieces in the creation of good towns and cities. Many of our recent projects have explored patterns of development where there is less reliance on the automobile and where the emphasis is on compact and livable communities with a variety of building types and uses.