Frida Escobedo, a 42-year-old Mexican architect, will design the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s much-anticipated new wing for contemporary and modern art , the New York museum announced March 14, taking over a project previously led by David Chipperfield Architects.
Escobedo was the second lone female architect, after Zaha Hadid, commissioned to design the Serpentine Pavilion , an annual project in London’s Hyde Park coveted by heavyweights in the industry. For the Met wing she beat out four other architecture firms: Lacaton & Vassal, SO — IL, Ensamble Studio, and Chipperfield Architects. Chipperfield had previously received the commission to design the new wing in 2015 under Thomas Campbell, the Met’s former director. However, delays and budget cuts stymied the collaboration, which ultimately never came to fruition.
“It’s a very important commission,” Max Hollein, the current director of the Met, told the New York Times. Hollein has taken steps towards overhauling the museum by encouraging interdepartmental communication and recommending non-chronological organization of the art in the new contemporary wing.
“This collection will continue to grow more significantly than any other area,” Hollein said. “[Escobedo] is a strong voice in the architectural discourse. She produces very contemporary buildings that are rooted in a modern canon.”
Since taking the helm of the Met in 2018, Hollein has made clear that he intends to modernize how the iconic 150-year-old institution interacts with its collections, patrons, and staff. The museum is returning stolen artifacts to their countries of origin and reassessing its curatorial agendas.
Escobedo established Perro Rojo, her first architectural practice, at the age of 24. Her work on pavilions in Lisbon, as well as for the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012 and 2014, drew attention. She also successfully converted artist David Alfaro Siqueiros’ workshop into a museum, workshop, and artists’ residence in Cuernavaca, Mexico called La Tallera Siqueiros. “I like challenges,” Escobedo told the New York Times. “One of the dream commissions for any architect is to design an institution with the importance and relevance of the Met.”
Under Hollein, the Met is also in the process of overhauling the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, which is home to the museum’s art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Architect Kulapat Yantrasast of the firm wHy was selected by the Met to oversee its new design; renderings of Yantrasast’s plans show a light-flooded, pristine space with white stone plinths and a fresh, contemporary art space feel.