Seattle Architectural Firm NBBJ Expands Its Digital Prowess With Acquisition of ESI Design

The acquired New York-based design firm specializes in integrating immersive, interactive technologies into building environments
Updated: Mon, 02/10/2020 - 13:22
  • The acquired New York-based design firm specializes in integrating immersive, interactive technologies into building environments
Steve McConnell, managing partner of Seattle architecture, planning and design firm NBBJ has helped define Seattle’s skyline.

Seattle-based architectural firm NBBJ has acquired design studio ESI Design, providing NBBJ with added firepower in creating buildings that incorporate technology that offers digital experiences that are immersive and interactive.

The two firms have collaborated on past commercial real estate and workplace projects in Boston and New York City. As part of the deal, ESI Design founder and principal designer, Edwin Schlossberg, will become a partner at NBBJ and will continue to lead the ESI Design team.

In addition, six ESI Design leaders will become NBBJ principals. NBBJ also will retain both its existing New York City office and the ESI Design location in the city, giving NBBJ a total of 160 employees in the Big Apple ― and increasing the firm’s total employment to more than 800 worldwide.

“By integrating the design of architecture and dynamic digital experiences, we will create boundless opportunities to energize the places we live, work, and play to stimulate our senses and inspire discovery, learning, and impact,” says Steve McConnell, managing partner of NBBJ. “The acquisition of ESI Design brings this vision to life and increases NBBJ’s ability to serve our clients as they activate their brands, create community, inspire wellbeing and thrive.”

NBBJ is a global architectural and design firm that has done work for clients such as Amazon, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft and Massachusetts General Hospital. McConnell has directed the design of several of Seattle’s most significant projects, including the world’s largest LEED Platinum-certified building campus, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Seattle’s federal courthouse; and Swedish Medical Center. The company’s recent work includes the $60 million headquarters for the Seattle Opera and the Amazon Spheres.

ESI Design specializes in integrating digital experiences into the design process, such as the immersive visitor experience it created for the Statue of Liberty Museum, which opened last year. Other ESI Design clients include Barclays, eBay, WarnerMedia and the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration.

“We are at an exciting moment in time where the diverse skillsets of digital designers, media architecture technologists, gaming engineers and storytellers will partner with architects to create buildings as places that are lively, engaging and evolving,” says ESI Design's Schlossberg.

NBBJ, which was founded in 1943, moved its headquarters from the SODO neighborhood to South Lake Union more than a decade ago. It maintains 12 offices around the world and has done work in upward of 30 countries.

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