Between gates A10 and A12 in the Pittsburgh International Airport, one shop stands out from the rest. Fraley’s Robot Repair appears to be straight out of the 1950s with its streamlined electric blue interior, but its goods are straight out of the future: dozens of disassembled robots dangle throughout the space, their wires exposed.
The shop has all the trimmings of a midcentury electronics repair shop whose owners have just stepped out. It’s the attention to detail that sets the scene, with vintage artifacts and futuristic inventions paired together. Typewriters and chunky red telephones sit next to shelves of paint and tools, while broken robots slump in corners. An x-ray displays a broken robo-arm, while a Robot Repair Manual lays next to an emergency R.A.N. kit (“Robot Apprehension Net”).
Nothing is for sale here, and unfortunately, if you do have a robot, you can’t bring it in for fixing. This is the work of installation artist Toby Fraley, who rearranges the charming scene inside his storefront on a regular basis.
As a child, Fraley was inspired by his father’s Popular Mechanics and Popular Science magazines, both of which predicted a future laden with jetpacks and hovercars. When he was invited to create an art installation as part of Downtown Pittsburgh’s “Project Pop Up,” he wanted to create an alternate historical reality in which we not only have humanoid robots, but we take them in for repairs rather than casting them off when they malfunction.
The shop was disassembled after the project ended, but after a successful Kickstarter campaign, the artist was able to reopen his faux shop in the Pittsburgh International Airport. The shop draws stares from puzzled travelers who aren’t sure what to make of Fraley’s Robot Repair. When they pull themselves away though, they are generally amused, which is exactly what Fraley intends.
Know Before You Go
Located on the airside of Pittsburgh International Airport just past Gate A10.