The city of Houston announced in July its latest work of permanent art in public space. Arco del Tiempo (Arch of Time) — a regenerative and permanent sculptural installation — will be installed in Houston’s Second Ward Complete Community in 2024. Designed by Berlin-based artist and architect Riccardo Mariano, the work takes the form of a 100-foot-tall triumphal arch and serves as a gateway to Houston’s East End/Segundo Barrio neighborhood. It is also an interactive time-measuring device that creates a thread between the celestial and the terrestrial by beaming sunlight onto the ground plane of Guadalupe Plaza Park. Each beam of light is uniquely composed throughout the seasons and hours of the day by the geometry of the artwork, which responds to the specific latitude and longitude of Houston.
Incorporating solar modules into the south-facing exterior of the sculpture, Arco del Tiempo will generate approximately 400,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year (equivalent to the demand of 40 Texas homes) and offset more than 100 percent of the power demand of the nearby Talento Bilingüe de Houston, a generational city-owned Latino cultural hub for performing arts in the East End. The project is the culmination of many years of planning by the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), a nonprofit dedicated to advancing climate solutions through art and design.
“Over its lifetime, the artwork will generate more than 12 million kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable energy — the equivalent of removing 8,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide,” says Elizabeth Monoian, founding co-director of the LAGI. “All the energy that went into its making — from the smelting of the steel to the drilling that puts the final cladding into place — will be offset through the energy it generates.” Tracing the path of the sun across the sky, Arco del Tiempo is both a monumental sculpture and a shaded place to meet, linger, experience, and perform. The new public sculpture will soon become a new destination for the city of Houston.