E-Wall

This morning I dropped by Pike Loop, a temporary installation in downtown Manhattan designed by the Swiss architects Gramazio & Kohler and fabricated by a large industrial robot that goes by the name R-O-B. Unfortunately for a robot lover like me, R-O-B had decamped the site weeks earlier, after having carefully stacked and epoxy-glued more than 7,000 bricks into a looping wall that runs the length of a small pedestrian island on Pike Street near Chinatown. (Scroll down to watch a time-lapse video of R-O-B at work.)

The resulting installation is not something that’s likely to stop passersby in their tracks—it is, after all, a brown brick wall—but it’s an appealing piece of urban art nonetheless. For me, it was all about city textures: Peering through the gaps in the brickwork, you see passing traffic, chain-link fencing, the garish signs on the storefronts across the street. An otherwise drab corner of the city suddenly seems a bit more colorful and strange.

Pike Loop was realized thanks to Storefront for Art and Architecture and the New York City Department of Transportation’s Urban Art Program. “It’s our first time bringing robot art to the streets of New York, certainly,” the NYCDOT’s commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, told me in a recent phone call. “It’s cutting-edge innovation–and, you know, it’s a bit of a surprise. So it brings that element of play and liveliness to the streetscape.”

Here’s that time-lapse video:

And here are a few more snapshots of the final installation, which will remain at Pike St. and Division St. (map) at least until January.

IMG_3946IMG_3932IMG_3959Related: Last year, Alec Appelbaum watched as Janette Sadik-Khan unveiled the NYCDOT’s transit strategic plan to enthusiastic whoops of approval from the audience.

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