Esther Choi

Associate Professor Adjunct

Esther Choi is a multidisciplinary artist and architectural historian whose work and writing explore how concepts of nature, as well as themes of marginality, alterity, and the nonstandard, have shaped and been shaped by the aesthetic and narrative conventions of world-making practices. Her historical scholarship centers on the entanglements between architecture and the sciences in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the intersections between artistic and architectural movements throughout the twentieth century. 

She also interested in the potential for dialogical aesthetics to challenge codes of representation, enable access to knowledge, and generate new architectures of social engagement. Recent works include Le Corbuffet (Prestel 2019), a participatory artist's book that adopts the form of a cookbook to interrogate cultural narratives of art and design practices; and Office Hours (2020–), a socially-engaged initiative that cultivates the sharing of world-making knowledge amongst practitioners who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Her work has been exhibited internationally and written about in T Magazine, 032C, Vanity Fair, The Architect's Newspaper, and more.

She has published critical essays in Artforum, Architectural Review, Art Papers, Journal of Architectural Education, and SSENSE, and contributed book chapters to Hippie Modernism (Walker Art Center, 2015), Reaper (JRP Ringier, 2015), and Radical Pedagogies (MIT Press, 2022). Choi is the coeditor, with Marrikka Trotter, of Architecture At the Edge of Everything Else (MIT Press, 2010) and Architecture Is All Over (Columbia U, 2017).

Choi received her PhD in Architectural History and Theory from Princeton University, where her dissertation received the inaugural David B. Brownlee Dissertation Award conferred by the Society of Architectural Historians. Prior to Princeton, she earned an MDes AP from Harvard Graduate School of Design, an MFA in photography from Concordia University, and a BFA in photography from Ryerson University.

Her work has received support from the Canada Council for the Arts, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Richard Rogers Fellowship, Society of Architectural Historians, Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada, and American Council of Learned Societies, among others. 

Projects & Links

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.