Arch the Pittsburgh bridge transformer/robot sculpture across from the Clemente Bridge

Arch the Pittsburgh bridge transformer across from the Clemente Bridge

Arch, the Pittsburgh Transformer, is missing from his Seventh Street/Fort Duquesne Blvd corner.

Based on reports we’ve received, he disappeared during the finals weeks of Batman filming. A few of our readers even blamed Christopher Nolan at the time and thought he was going too far. After all, the Dark Knight director did chop down a couple dozen trees because they were leafy.

It was 2008 when Arch arrived. That was the year the Heinz Endowments set Tom Sokolowski (Warhol Museum director from 1996 – 2010) on a mission to create a gift for Pittsburgh on its 250th birthday. Tom found an artist from Los Angeles by the name of Glenn Kaino (co-founder of and hired him for the job.

Literally and metaphorically, Arch is a bridge between the past, present, and future… From the immigrants constructing bridges to navigate the terrain, to the steel industry and the rise of industrialism, to the robotics industry and advanced technology that exists there today and drives hope for the future, my goal was for Arch to be an iconic figure that embodied that narrative—but that also looked really, really cool. – Glenn Kaino, Arch creator

Arch was a robot in disguise. He stood his ground as an iconic reminder of Pittsburgh’s own transformation. The 20 ft tall sculpture, constructed from steel and fiberglass, was only supposed to be in town for 6 months. We don’t know why he was asked to extend his stay, but like most Transformers, he was visitor with a purpose. Hopefully the transformation that he represented will remain long after his departure.

Arch was an important figure for many Pittsburghers. When we first noticed him, he made us feel curious. When we got to know him, he made us feel happy. When we saw him there on a regular basis, he made us feel at home. Arch watched over Steelers and Pirates fans as they crossed the bridge after the games. If it was a victory, the fans felt proud as they approached the gigantic protector. If it were a loss, they saw Arch and felt ok knowing that we’ll get ’em next time.

Today, the corner of Seventh Street and Fort Duquesne Blvd is a mulchy pit of emptiness and confusion. Where’s that robot statue thingy? He was taken away without warning. Nobody knows where he went. Why didn’t they tell us? Why didn’t they ask permission?

Arch the Transformer sculpture made from bridges in Pittsburgh

Arch the Transformer sculpture made from bridges in Pittsburgh

Arch the Transformer sculpture made from bridges in Pittsburgh

Arch the bridge Transformer

Pittsburgh’s gonna miss you, big guy.

The mulchy corner without Arch the Transformer

The mulchy corner of Seventh Street/Fort Duquesne Blvd without Arch the Transformer

Thanks to #BurghVerified member @PghRunner for the pics!


The local newspaper finally decided to cover this story and reported on 9/3/11 that Arch was dismantled and removed for restoration. He was moved to a studio in Ohio. Meanwhile, the cost of restoring him is still unknown and they are actively searching for a new Downtown location. Donations are being accepted to help with the restoration.  {link}

Los Angeles sculptor Glenn Kaino fabricated it as a temporary work commissioned for the Pittsburgh 250 celebration in 2008. It was left up because of public response but “some parts were wearing out,” said Rene Piechocki, director of the Office of Public Art, a partnership between the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and the city’s planning department.

“It was made to last for six months,” she said. “Some parts were made of wood. But people really loved it and we really want to keep it. It’s so much fun when a work of art becomes loved.”

Tipped by Matt DelSignore