Carlton Edwards: Life Lessons


If you spend a little time talking to Rob Carlton, you’ll realize a few things. 1. He’s very grounded. 2. Professionally, he’s been through a lot. 3. He loves what he does.

Carlton was in Asheville when the area’s vast landscape was being developed, as well as when the Great Recession hit with full force. Through it all, he’s been eyes forward. Even picking up his contractor’s license during slower times. And now as building remains on the rise, Carlton sits down with Residential Design to discuss the journey thus far.


There are a lot of skills they don’t teach you in college; chief among them is how to run a business. This is especially true of architecture school, where the emphasis is on design thinking and not profits and pro formas. Lucky for design/builder Rob Carlton, AIA, that his postgraduate training was at the entrepreneurial architecture firm, Looney Ricks Kiss in Memphis. LRK has always led the way among firms that work with developers, with one eye on design rigor and the other eye on market forces. They design real world projects for real people, and it was a solid education for a young designer right out of school.

“Working for Carson Looney taught me a great deal about the housing market from the perspective of commerce,” says Rob. “The homebuilding industry was a foreign thing to me before I got there. And it was exciting to be a part of their developing architecture for new urban communities.” Ultimately, though, the interlude was a cul-de-sac on Rob’s path to a career in custom residential design and construction—albeit an important one. Not only did he acquire a few of those skills not taught in school, but he made significant professional contacts that pay dividends to this day (and some personals ones, too).