It’s About Balance.

We believe architecture is about more than designing a structure, it’s about balance. Between form and function, requirements and vision, innovation and tradition. Between the building, the environment, and the community it serves. We enhance these relationships with compelling design solutions.


Founded in 1983, the leaders envisioned an architecture firm that was diverse, balanced, and practiced client-focused design. Over the past 30 years, the ESA team has grown to nearly 60 architects and interior design professionals. Together, we have earned a reputation for distinguished design and excellent service.

Designing for our clients, not our portfolio.

From a project’s inception through its completion and beyond, every phase of the design process is a collaborative effort between our clients and the ESA team. This approach has rewarded us with client relationships that are unusually prolific: ESA’s first client still works with the firm.

While our work has won many awards for design excellence, perhaps our most significant accomplishments lie in the many ways our buildings improve the lives of those who live and interact with them.

Design Approach

Program. Place. Craft. Art. Science.

Architectural design is more than a building’s aesthetics. It is how a building interacts with its surroundings, is used by its inhabitants, enhances productivity, creates a sense of place.

Good architectural design balances the elements of program, place, craft, art, and science. But it also understands that the relationships between these elements will vary from project to project. Our clients’ needs are always the starting point for developing a design. Prior to the program, a site is a blank slate. The owner’s functional requirements, employee base, aspirations—these all shape the final design.

Layered on top of the owner’s program are the interests of the surrounding community, the code and legal requirements, the technical specifications demanded by the program, the building’s orientation and scale, the science of bringing together art and engineering.

Our design approach is based on listening, collaboration, and problem-solving. Our objective for every project we undertake? Enhance the lives of the people who experience the buildings we design.



The expertise of our design team allows us to offer a wide range of architectural services and specializations while our size ensures close client contact at every project phase, from pre-design through construction administration. ESA’s services include:


Sustainable Design

Site Analysis

City of Chicago Self Certification


Historic Preservation

Programming Studies

Interior Design

Facility Assessments

LEED Certification

Building Information Modeling

Space Planning

Feasibility Studies

Eckenhoff Saunders Architects is a
registered USGBC Silver LEED Member

BIM Integration

ESA utilizes three-dimensional building information modeling (BIM) programs early in the design process to enable greater pre-visualization of conceptual design elements and spatial relationships. With BIM, all members of a design team—including architects, MEP/FP engineers, structural engineers, civil engineers, cost estimators, and contractors—speak the same language with a single model to which each discipline contributes their specific knowledge. Each three-dimensional model contains essential data regarding not only the building’s design, but also that of the building’s performance capabilities, logistics, and constructability.

We have found that combining the BIM programs Autodesk Revit Architecture and Navisworks in the construction documents phase helps us identify and correct potential problems among the different design and engineering disciplines early on, creating more coordinated documents and a smoother construction process. As contractors continue to shift toward practices rooted entirely in BIM, our ability to provide a quality model is a valuable tool to help our clients save time and money.

BIM is the next generation in documentation for architects. As such, we want to make sure we maximize the software’s capabilities in order to deliver the highest quality documents to our clients. Our BIM Quality Assurance Team comprises architects with extensive technical experience. It dedicates significant time and measures to instating and reviewing our BIM standards, as well as leading continuing professional development for the office.