Steve Saunders, AIA | Founding Principal

Stephen Saunders
Steve co-founded ESA in 1983. He has developed a skill for listening to clients and helping them define the problem before developing solutions. He believes that good design comes from engaging the client in a dialogue of confidence and trust and that the result is a building uniquely suited to the client’s needs.
Steve’s experience encompasses buildings for the healthcare, hospitality, institutional, office, telecommunications, and industrial markets.
Recent projects include the award-winning Allerton Hotel renovation; a LEED Silver parking structure and childcare center for Northwestern Memorial Hospital; and multiple buildings and clinical spaces for DuPage Medical Group. Other work includes the Museum of Broadcast Communications, Temple Am Shalom, and over 60 industrial buildings.
Steve has held leadership positions at AIA Chicago, AIA Illinois, Washington University, Jane Addams Hull House Association, the River Forest Plan Commission, and the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago.
Steve is an accomplished landscape photographer whose work is in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Illinois State Museum, and the Santa Cruz Art Museum of Art.

The most interesting building in Chicago is…
1209 N. State by Andrew Rebori.
What is the role of drawing in an increasingly digital practice?
Like playing a musical instrument, hand-eye dexterity makes a drawing human.
What do you find most rewarding about design/architecture?
Translating a clients words into drawings and ultimately building it, a very compelling experience.