About the Project

Playing the Building was a 9,000-square-foot, interactive, site-specific installation by renowned artist and musician David Byrne. For this participatory project, Byrne transformed the interior of the landmark Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan into a massive sound sculpture, at which he invited visitors to sit and “play.”


The project consisted of a retrofitted antique organ, placed in the center of the building’s cavernous second-floor gallery. When played, the keys controlled a series of devices attached to architectural features, such as metal beams, plumbing, electrical conduits, and heating and water pipes. These machines vibrated, struck, and blew across the building’s elements, triggering unique harmonics and producing finely tuned sounds.


Photograph by Justin Ouellette




David Byrne

Playing the Building




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