J. Robert F. Swanson Lecture: Frida Escobedo
Frida Escobedo is principal and founder of an architecture and design studio based in Mexico City. The projects produced at the studio operate within a theoretical framework that addresses time not as a historical calibration, but rather a social operation. This expanded temporal reading stems directly from Henri Bergson’s notion of ‘social time,’ and is articulated in conceptual works such as the El Eco Pavilion (2010), Split Subject (2013) and Civic Stage (2013). By these measures of practice and thought, social time unfolds across multiple subjects at multiple speeds and modes of duration.
The work developed at Frida Escobedo´s studio ranges from art installation and furniture design to residential and public buildings. The firm’s projects include ‘You know you cannot see so well as by reflection,’ a summer Pavilion designed for the central courtyard of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; the exhibition design for ‘Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today,’ curated by Pablo León de la Barra and organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York in collaboration with the Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo; and ‘A very short space of time through very short times of space’, an art installation commissioned by Stanford University.
Whether working on public or private commissions, Frida Escobedo aims to make use of disuse, to find significance in the interstices of our lived environment, to give equal attention to craft and to practicality. The intention to provide possibilities for growth and flexibility can be read as much in large scale social housing projects, such as those developed for INFONAVIT, as in more modest interventions like Casa Cruz Castillo or Casa Negra.
Notable architectural projects include La Tallera, the rehabilitation of the home and studio of the seminal Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros (Cuernavaca, 2012); Librería Octavio Paz (Mexico City, 2013); and the renovation of the iconic 1950s Hotel Boca Chica (Acapulco, 2010). Recent projects include ‘If we want to continue,’ an intervention at the Neutra VDL Research House in Los Angeles; “No. 9,” an exhibition at the Arthur Ross Gallery, Columbia University; and large- scale installations at the Chicago Architecture Biennial and la Biennale d'Architecture d'Orléans.
Escobedo is the recipient of the Architectural League of New York’s Young Architects Forum award (2009), the 2014 BIAU Prize, the 2016 Architectural Review Emerging Architecture Award, the 2017 Architectural League Emerging Voices Award and most recently, the 2018 Serpentine Summer Pavilion. Frida Escobedo has been a visiting professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (2015), Harvard Graduate School of Design (2016) and the Architectural Association of London (2016). In Fall 2017 she was named as the Howard A. Friedman Visiting Professor of Practice at UC Berkeley. During spring 2019 she was a visiting professor at RICE University and is currently teaching at Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Photo Credit: Rafael Gamo
The J. Robert F. Swanson Lecture Fund was established in honor of J. Robert F. Swanson (B.Arch. 1924) to encourage and support the commitment to intellectual, artistic, and professional excellence in architecture at the University of Michigan.