ESD Celebrates 50 Years of Engineering Prowess

ESD (Environmental Systems Design, Inc.), an international leader in the design of high performance buildings, mission critical facilities, workplaces, and health, science and education environments, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

From humble beginnings, ESD has grown to $50 million a year in revenues, with nearly 300 employees. Working in more than 30 states, the firm boasts Fortune 500 clients nationwide and is engaged in high-profile projects internationally. Now one of the biggest engineering firms in the country, with offices in Dallas and San Francisco along with one in Abu Dhabi, ESD has been involved with three of the seven tallest buildings in the world. In 2016, thanks to its close relationship with Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, ESD added AS+GG’s PositivEnergy Practice Studio to the fold.

While the war in Vietnam and race riots filled the headlines 50 years ago, a tiny engineering firm opened in Chicago, attracting little notice. Hem Gupta — an engineer who grew up without electricity or running water in India — had worked successfully for many years at Perkins & Will. Still, his entrepreneurial zeal remained unfulfilled. He chose to launch Environmental Service Design, Inc. (ESD) in July 1967. Hem, along with architect Jack Train – who had worked with him at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill on the landmark Inland Steel Building –contributed $25,000 in start-up capital. Situated in the second-biggest city in the United States, ESD opened shop — but would it survive?

Raj Gupta

Starting with its first major project – the Chicago Board of Trade – there is hardly a building in Chicago’s Loop ESD has not touched. Possessing expertise in mechanical, electrical, plumbing, technology and other services, its best work needs to go unseen to allow architectural excellence to shine. Though Hem Gupta passed away earlier this year at 85, ESD is still family-owned, as second-generation leader and CEO Raj Gupta steers the Chicago-based company into the future.

“I’m proud of what has been accomplished by my Dad and many others,” Gupta said. “I’m also really excited about is what can be accomplished in the future in areas that didn’t even exist when we started. Changes in government regulations, technology and more are influencing the design of buildings inside and out. That makes the specialization we bring more valuable than ever.”

ESD plans to celebrate its 50th anniversary in a number of ways later this year. Please contact Raj Gupta at or (312) 456-2290 to find out more about how ESD has reached such a prime position from its humble beginnings and how it plans to separate itself from competitors even more over the next 50 years.


A global company, ESD is a leader in Improving Society Through the Built Environment. We create design solutions that produce economic, environmental and experiential benefits for our clients, many of whom are the biggest names in the worlds of business, technology — and beyond. We embrace technological change and are in the forefront of developing Intelligent Buildings. We emphasize innovation, adaptability, and sustainability when providing mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, life safety, and technology engineering. For more information, please visit