Rendering of “Arco del Tiempo,” courtesy of artist Riccardo Mariano and the Land Art Generator Initiative
Rendering of “Arco del Tiempo” at night, courtesy of artist Riccardo Mariano and the Land Art Generator Initiative.
Rendering of underneath “Arco del Tiempo,” courtesy of artist Riccardo Mariano and the Land Art Generator Initiative.
A towering majestic arch, a product of both art and engineering, will soon sit in Houston’s East End as a new family-friendly space. Arco del Tiempo, which translates to Arch of Time, will be a major addition to Houston’s public art scene and the city’s efforts to promote climate leadership and sustainability practices. The groundbreaking project is set to be installed in Guadalupe Plaza Park in the Second Ward neighborhood in 2024.
Arco del Tiempo was designed by Berlin-based artist and architect Riccardo Mariano. Mariano’s design was originally an entry in the Land Art Generator Initiative’s (LAGI) 2019 design competition in Abu Dhabi, one of many such competitions hosted by LAGI since its founding in 2008.
“We decided to launch an open call international design competition that would provide the opportunity for creatives to imagine what our energy infrastructure could aspire to be if conceived as cultural destinations and landmark works of art,” LAGI co-founder Elizabeth Monoian noted at an Arco del Tiempo artist talk at Talento Billigüe de Houston. “The goal of our practice is to accelerate the transition to post-carbon economies by demonstrating models of renewable energy and other sustainable infrastructures that add value to public space, inspire and educate by presenting examples of renewable energy infrastructures.”
The scale of Arco del Tiempo is unique among other similar projects, and its location in Houston — the energy capital of the world — is particularly significant. Strong support from city officials speaks to Houston’s dedication to innovation and sustainable development and the drive to be a leader in the global effort to shift towards renewable energy. In the process of development and design, Mariano and LAGI have worked extensively with the community in which the artwork will eventually be installed.
“The title comes from a suggestion that came from the community,” Mariano explained at the artist talk. “Talking to the people while developing this work has really informed the whole design process.
“And I believe that this is a better work because it was informed by the conversations we had.”
The new Houston arch will aim to be at once a beautiful public installation, a gathering place for the community, a practical source of energy and an educational tool. The 100-foot-tall arch is designed with elliptical openings that will allow perfectly circular beams of sunlight to shine through, creating an interactive time-measuring device that functions similarly to a sundial.
The beams of light will respond specifically to Houston’s latitude and longitude and even change throughout each hour of the day. The outside of the artwork incorporates solar modules that will generate around 400,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, which will eventually completely offset the project’s carbon footprint and become a net positive for the planet.
Each of these features offers perfect opportunities for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education, and the space will also be a functional performing arts venue that can be utilized day or night, making it a destination for school field trips and family outings alike.
“Long term, the power of public art for sustainable development of communities is really important to reflect upon,” LAGI’s other co-founder Robert Ferry notes. “(Arco del Tiempo]) will become a destination — and a celebrated and cherished icon for the city of Houston.”
This new Houston arch is being supported significantly by Mrs. Barbara Tober, a dedicated supporter of LAGI and the arts at large.