Bringing the Convention to the People – Designing Freedom Plaza with Facebook


Facebook approached Boxman with a big ask- they wanted to bring the Republican National Convention to the people, not the other way around. We partnered our modular expertise with their teams and technology, including Facebook Live, Instagram, the RNC, and Facebook Elections to deliver a super-versatile structure outside of Quicken Loans Arena in Freedom Plaza, Cleveland- and we did it in a month.

Facebook is the new Town Hall. Since January 1st of this year, 89 million people have had 2.9 billion interactions on Facebook about the candidates and the issues (Katie Harbath, Global Politics, Facebook). Instead of caucusing and waiting for a chance to speak with your elected representation, those people can connect with you, right now, with help from our structure. I’ve seen former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, and journalist Dan Rather all give live interviews from one of our studio spaces, and we’re not even to the meat of the RNC yet.

Facebook approached us with so many needs- a shaded area for hundreds of people during a happy hour, a control room to be the brains behind their RNC activation, a safe and sturdy space to serve as the muscle, product demonstration areas for Oculus and Facebook Live, and a semi-private live studio shot of Freedom Plaza. They also had wants- secure storage, modular backdrops, interactive fun, and the right branding and materials.

We listened.

After a month-long journey between Boxman, Facebook, and the RNC- working in tandem day and night- we arrived at what is the most successful operation in Freedom Plaza this cycle. This design and build is an assembly of parts all working together to hum like a tuned engine- seeming to magnify whatever debacle on the inside of Quicken Loans Arena.

We embraced new building methods and materials in order to meet Facebook’s timeline, use requirements, and look and feel of their home offices in Menlo Park. We relied on our expertise to meet the turnkey detail and quality that Boxman demands.

The structure provides open, creative, flowing spaces assembled from unassuming materials- steel, glass, wood, concrete, and textiles. We created a Swiss Army Knife that is an incredibly powerful tool for Facebook, their employees, their clients, and you on your couch at home. An employee can be focused in a quiet, secure meeting room (maybe trying on Oculus for the first time, which is insanely cool), or they can find spontaneous collaboration upstairs between delegates, media, and professionals from all corners of the globe.

There are tiny details and visual cues that help guide the occupants where to go and what to expect in each microspace. If you don’t notice them, we’ve done a good job. Backing away, the structure as a whole is modular adaptive reuse- with each container having its own history. The white one to my right is from Copenhagen, and the blue one I’m writing this in is from Fayetteville.

This might be the finest worldwide cooperation in a while- politicians take note.

Matt Wilson

Creative, Lead Designer, Boxman Studios