Frida Escobedo has designed a monolithic timber, tiered platform in Randolph Square—a singular formal gesture with moveable modules that allows for informal lounging, gatherings, and forums. The intervention departs from a question—what happens when different systems of spatial demarcation intersect? The insertion of this gridded form interrupts the configuration of the historic space, passing by two of the symmetrical openings and carving a pathway through the space. While this framework does seem to follow its own logic, one starts to notice that it points to other grids in the existing room, like the structural and ornamental grid of the coffered ceiling, or the inlaid Carrara marble paneling of the walls. Expanding further out the door to Randolph Street, one might start to think about what architectural theorist Sarah Whiting calls “Chicago’s elastic grid,” in regard to the 1909 Burnham plan for the city that fosters a surprising diversity of subdivisions and city-block sizes. The Randolph Square installation is not intended as a purely abstract expression of Cartesian logic, nor as a mere functional object designed to fulfill a prescribed program. Rather, it is an ambiguous ground—a landscape intended to respond to the various ways in which it will be occupied.
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 from Henri Bergson’s notion of ‘social time,’ and is materialized in such conceptual works as the El Eco Pavilion (2010), Split Subject (2013), and Civic Stage, presented at the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennial. By these measures of practice and thought, social time unfolds across multiple subjects, at multiple speeds and modes of duration.
Frida Escobedo has taught at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; Harvard Graduate School of Design; and the Architectural Association, London. She is the recipient of the 2014 BIAU Prize, the 2016 Architectural Review Emerging Architecture Award, and most recently, the 2017 Architectural League Emerging Voices Award.