“My parents instilled that in me,” he said. “My politics are very much aligned with that.”
He graduated from Pratt Institute in 1975 with a degree in architecture. Esterson said he learned in school that architects should “be in service of the greater community.”
“We really believe that our ability and our talent should be to promote the quality of New York’s neighborhoods,” he said, “particularly neighborhoods that have been underserved for such a long time.”
“We really believe that fine buildings and good architecture, and long-lasting buildings, will make neighborhoods more sustainable,” he added.
Esterson, who has lived in New York City for most of his life, is a principal at Think! Architecture and Design, a 30-person design firm located at 1 MetroTech Center in Downtown Brooklyn.
Though he joined the firm in April 2015, he has been working with his partner for about 16 years.
The longtime architect said the company is devoted to community-based projects, including affordable housing, supportive housing for special needs populations, medical clinics and homeless shelters.
Some of the firm’s projects can be found throughout New York City, from Pratt Institute’s Myrtle Hall and The Nighthawk Cinema’s Prospect Park location in Brooklyn to the Kupferberg Center for the Arts on the Queens College campus.
Esterson’s latest project, now complete, is the HANAC Corona Senior Residence, which has a particular focus on sustainability and meeting top environmental standards. The building met Passive Housing Institute Design standards.
“We’re very much about making local communities better through really high-quality design, and often working with very low budgets,” he said. “So it’s very challenging work, but really gratifying to be helping rebuild underserved communities.”