Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on July 14, 2023.
Disclaimer: Our site uses demographic data, email opt-ins, display advertising, and affiliate links. Please check out our Terms and Conditions. Pricing, operating hours, or menus may have changed since our initial visit and may not be reflected in subsequent updates. Please confirm these directly with any business or attraction prior to visiting.
We always love seeing what new art exhibits come to the Cultural District in downtown Pittsburgh, and in the summer of 2023, the Backyard at 8th and Penn has one of the largest pieces yet.
Architects of Air: Daedalum is a unique, immersive, and inflatable art piece that guests can go inside and explore a world of color, geometric patterns, and the influence of light.
We visited this one shortly after it opened in July 2023 and want to share a bit more about what you can expect when visiting this one during its temporary run through Labor Day.
Note: We are limiting our shares of imagery from inside the experience to not give everything away- particularly of the two biggest art pieces found inside. Note that advanced sale tickets are available as are walk-ups, pending demand.
Architects of Air: Daedalum is an Immersive Experience
The experience at Architects of Air is quite an immersive one as far as local art exhibits are concerned.
When it is your turn to enter the space, which is a monster-inflated tent seemingly only supported by air, you remove your shoes, pass through a rudimentary airlock, and then are free to explore the spaces 17 uniquely shaped domes at your leisure. Many of these domes have colored designs built-in that light up as the outside natural light passes through, giving the experience the apt name nickname of the luminarium.
Apart from simply letting yourself get lost and, at times, fully disoriented without any sense of direction, there are two larger rooms within Architects of Air that are worth spending some time in.
The first is a room is called Daedalum's Tree with concentric circles and spheres built into the tent for a rather unique ambiance. The second, much larger space is the Main Dome with 600 pieces of colored shapes arranged in a geometric pattern on the ceiling. The design is a bit of a throwback to places like Rome's Pantheon and other tall, intricate domes of that nature.
Perhaps our favorite thing to do was lay down in the room, look up at the patterns, and zone out. Literally. If you stare at the ceiling long enough, the pattern ends up acting a bit like an optical illusion where shapes and colors being to slowly dance around as your eyes go in and out of focus. Couple that with relaxing sounds that are piped in, and we truly reached a rather fun state of contentment in just a few minutes- assuming no kids were screaming nearby, at least.
- The art exhibit also hosts yoga on Saturdays at noon, which could be a great option for those who are interested in a unique location. Tickets are required at a slightly higher price point.
One of the main features of Architects of Air: Daedalum is that all of the colored exhibits are illuminated by natural light during the day or artificial light in the evening. As such, the experience will be ever-so-different for those who visit on a sunny day (like we did), on a cloudy day, during light weather events (the exhibit may close at more intense ones), at sunset, or at night (particularly towards the end of the show's run in late August and September when the sun sets just a little bit earlier before the exhibit closes at 9PM).
For those who have the patience to wait for the lighting to change, particularly around sunset, this could offer a more rewarding experience than a mid-day attendance like we had where we could only experience the art in one lighting condition.
Is Architects of Air Worth the Cost?
As much as I enjoyed Architects of Air for what it is, I am hesitant on the overall value proposition. At $25 for Wednesdays and Thursdays and $30 for Friday through Sunday (with discounts for kids and Cultural Trust members), we simply left wanting more for our money.
We spent roughly 30 minutes inside Architects of Air, which at a $60 price point for two (inclusive of tax, seemingly), it was a steep price for what we got out of the experience for a one-time visit.
For those who would use the installation to sit back, reflect, meditate, and, perhaps most importantly, spend more time than we did in the process, the price could be a better proposition. This is the kind of exhibit where you could most certainly do that, assuming the exhibit wasn't terribly busy (which was not when we visited). But even for us, we had our fill in a relatively brief period.
That said, we also recognize that this exhibit requires numerous employees to maintain and that the price point does help limit the crowds a great deal as well- in theory, at least. So this is something also worth keeping in mind as it may not be obvious until you visit. If the exhibit was completely overrun, lines and a less immersive experience likely would follow.
So while we may have opinions that the price point is on the high side, we can also see why that is. Thankfully, afterward we made our way into the Backyard at 8th and Penn space and enjoyed a brew from the on-site beer garden (featuring pours from Trace and Necromancer), and rounded out the experience for a fun night out all the same.
Overall, Architects of Air: Daedalum is a neat interactive art experience downtown and is quite unlike other exhibits we've seen pop up in the past. Yes, the price point is high, but this one is also rather unique and will be running in the Cultural District until Labor Day.
Architects of Air: Daedalum is located at the Backyard at 8th and Penn space in the Cultural District and runs through September 4th, 2023.