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Life and work
Esherick was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1937 with a bachelor of architecture degree, Esherick set up practice in the San Francisco Bay Area as early as 1950 and taught at University of California, Berkeley for many years. He was awarded the AIA Gold Medal in 1989.
Inheriting the Bay Area architectural tradition of figures like Bernard Maybeck and William Wurster, Esherick's designs for hundreds of houses through his career centered on attention to regional traditions, site requirements, and user needs.
In 1938, Esherick married Rebecca Wood whom he knew from Penn. About ten years later Rebecca designed their own home in Kent Woodlands with Joe consulting. The style of the house with a huge gabled roof and large glass walls is stunningly modern. In 1946, Rebecca earned her architectural license and worked for her husband on a variety of projects while raising their three children.
In 1959, Esherick was the co-founder, along with William Wurster and Vernon DeMars, of Berkeley's influential College of Environmental Design (CED). The CED encompassed disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, environmental planning and city planning, and served as a nexus for figures like Christopher Alexander, Catherine Bauer, Galen Cranz, Donlyn Lyndon, Roger Montgomery, Charles Moore, and William Wilson Wurster.
In 1972, Esherick reorganized his office, turning away from houses to more commercial and academic work, with three longtime associates George Homsey, Peter Dodge and Chuck Davis to form Esherick Homsey Dodge & Davis, the winner of the 1986 Architecture Firm Award. The firm continues today as EHDD Architecture. In 1976, Esherick was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full Academician in 1990.
In 1989, Esherick received the AIA Gold Medal.
Esherick was the nephew of American sculptor Wharton Esherick.
- House at Kentwoodlands, Kent Woodlands, California, 1957
- Cary House, Mill Valley, California, 1960
- Harold E. Jones Child Study Center, at University of California, Berkeley, 1960
- Bermak House, Oakland, California, 1963, with architect Peter Dodge
- Six Sea Ranch Demonstration Houses (now called The Hedgerow Homes) (in collaboration with Lawrence Halprin and Charles Moore), Sonoma County, California, 1967
- The Cannery, San Francisco, California, 1968
- Mountain House (aka Roscoe House) Alamo, California, 1972
- Garfield School, San Francisco, California, 1981
- Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, 1981
- Silver Lake Lodge, Deer Valley, Utah, 1982
- Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, 1984
- Hermitage Condominiums, San Francisco, California, 1984
- McGuire house, 268 Seadrift Road, Stinson Beach, California, 1987
- Henry's Fork Lodge, Island Park, Idaho, 1991
- Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, California, 1998
- Tenderloin Community School, 1999
- Blumenthal, Ralph (December 25, 1998). "Joseph Esherick, 83, an Acclaimed Architect". NY Times. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
- Champion, Allison Brophy (October 3, 2012). "Stinson Beach home is an Esherick masterpiece". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
- Joseph Esherick. An architectural practice in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1938-1996 : oral history transcript / 1996
- A Bay Region master: The architecture of Joseph Esherick finally gets its due