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Joseph Esherick Collection, 1933-1985
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Access Points
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Collections

  • Descriptive Summary

    Collection Title: Joseph Esherick Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1933-1985
    Collection Number: 1974-1
    Creator: Esherick, Joseph, 1914-1998
    Extent: 29 vertical file drawers, 1 carton, 30 flat file drawers
    Repository: Environmental Design Archives. College of Environmental Design. University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley, California
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in the collection should be discussed with the Director.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Joseph Esherick Collection, (1974-1), Environmental Design Archives. College of Environmental Design. University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley, California

    Access Points

    Architecture, Modern--20th century--California--San Francisco Bay Area.
    Architecture, Domestic--California--San Francisco Bay Area.
    Buildings--California--Sea Ranch.
    Sea Ranch (Calif.)--Buildings, structures, etc.
    University of California, Santa Cruz--Buildings.
    Cannery (San Francisco, Calif.)


    Joseph Esherick was born in Philadelphia in 1914, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in architecture in 1937. He moved to San Francisco the following year, where he worked part-time for structural engineer Walter Steilberg before securing a full-time position in the office of Gardner Dailey.
    Esherick served in the Navy during World War II, then opened his own firm in San Francisco in 1946. His early work, primarily residential, was influenced by William Wurster and Gardner Dailey, and built upon their expression of the Bay Area Tradition.
    In the 1960s Esherick's firm began to take on larger projects, such as The Cannery (San Francisco, 1965-67) and Stevenson College at the University of California, Santa Cruz (1965-66). Esherick also designed demonstration houses for The Sea Ranch (1965-67), a planned community noted for the sensitivity of plan and design to the natural elements of the site. Esherick established a partnership with George Homsey, Peter Dodge, and Charles Davis in 1972, and the firm became Esherick, Homsey, Dodge, and Davis (EHDD).
    In addition to his work with the firm, Esherick was an educator and consultant. He taught at University of California, Berkeley from 1952-1985 and served as the Dean of the School of Architecture for the university from 1977-1981. Esherick established an independent consulting firm in the early 1980s. His projects included speaking engagements and committee memberships as well as design consulting. In this capacity he served on the Professional Consulting Group for The Sea Ranch twenty years after the community's original design. He also delivered a number of lectures on topics such as architectural education, the use of computers in design, and the Bay Area Tradition.
    Esherick was awarded the American Institute of Architect's Gold Medal Award in 1989. He continued working as senior design principal at EHDD until his death in 1998.

    Scope and Content

    The Joseph Esherick collection is arranged in four series: Personal Papers, Professional Papers, Office Records, and Project Files. Student drawings and travel sketchbooks comprise the bulk of Esherick's personal records. His professional papers include speeches and writings on topics such as architectural education and the Bay Area Tradition as well as records of consulting projects. Consulting projects include work with the Sea Ranch Design Committee, and the National Architectural Accrediting Board. The bulk of the collection consists of project files, primarily from the 1960s. The Cannery, University of California, Santa Cruz and Sea Ranch projects are especially well-documented.
    The collection was donated by the architect in a number of accessions between 1974 and 1985.

    Related Collections

    Title: Joseph Esherick, An Architectural Practice in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1938-1996,
    Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library Regional Oral History Office