A visionary and maverick, Joseph Esherick challenged convention and pushed our sense of what’s possible. He imagined better buildings — and a lighter impact on the earth — like few others at the time. His passion was to make his client’s lives enjoyable, with style, abundant light, and materials designed to last for generations.

The Early Years

San Francisco-based EHDD was founded in 1946 by Joseph Esherick, FAIA, Professor Emeritus, and former Chair of the Architecture Department at UC Berkeley. Joe was awarded the AIA Gold Medal in 1989 and the Maybeck Award in 1992. Esherick’s forward-thinking approach lives in our firm’s culture, and is embodied in every project.

From Esherick’s residential design studio sprang EHDD — a firm founded by Joe with fellow Maybeck Award honorees George Homsey FAIA, Peter Dodge FAIA, and Chuck Davis FAIA. Under their leadership, EHDD received the AIA Best Architectural Firm Award.

We originally made our mark by developing a Northern California vernacular in which architecture is designed to live in harmony with its many microclimates and topographies. Many Esherick houses led the mid-century modern design movement, and demonstrated early and innovative experiments in integrating architectural design with the local landscape.

Creating a Northern California Vernacular

As popular culture began a big re-think about what the world would look like next, we too were imagining a better future. We designed Sea Ranch, a residential community sustainably designed in both style and structure – an approach unheard of at the time. In addition, our redesign of The Cannery on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf helped pioneer commercial adaptive reuse in the US.

Scaling Up

We continued to grow, taking on more complex, ground-breaking projects, always with the mission to design in harmony with the surrounding communities and environment. Our award-winning Monterey Bay Aquarium re-imagined what a cannery on a pier could be and revitalized the surrounding Cannery Row made famous by John Steinbeck. Decades later, the aquarium is still regarded as one of the most innovative and successful in the world.

Embedded in our firm’s culture is a passion for advancing human progress through higher learning. This is reflected in our involvement in several significant university developments and the designing of student housing, libraries, and academic buildings on every University of California campus.

Global Conversation

Our passion for social and cultural advancement, with a keen focus on the end-user, was increasingly recognized by aquarium, zoo and museum clients around the world. This gave us the opportunity to expand our practice nationally and internationally and helped us take the lead in shaping the global conversation on sustainability and user-centered design.


Looking Forward

EHDD has grown to two offices in San Francisco and Seattle, over 75 staff, and eight principals. Today we are led by Jennifer Devlin-Herbert, our President and CEO. Our firm is dedicated to creating a culture of collaborative design where diverse opinions are heard and unique thinking is elevated.

EHDD just knows how to deliver a successful design-build project. Working with them is a rewarding experience because they know how to pull on the rope together.
–David Downey, Employee Owner, Sundt
University of California at Davis, Tercero Housing