The arch of time by riccardo mariano in houston, texas


The City of Houston in Texas adopts the sundial design with solar panels by Berlin-based artist and architect Riccardo Mariano named Arch of Time and is set to be permanently installed in the city’s East End – Houston’s Second Ward Complete Community – in 2024. Regarded as one of the world’s largest sundials, the triumphal arch not only measures time but also triples as a cultural and arts venue and an energy generator that can produce 400,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year to power up homes in Texas.


It is expected to tower over the Guadalupe Plaza Park, an ideal location where the beaming sunlight is projected from the sky down through the solar-shaped holes capping the architecture. As the sun moves in its direction, so does the lighting and ambient inside the Arch of Time. Aside from being a monumental instrument to tell time, the permanent public art is aimed to become the gate between and toward Houston’s East End and Segundo Barrio neighborhood.

world's largest sundial arch of time riccardo mariano
images courtesy of Riccardo Mariano and Land Art Generator Initiative



At day, the Arch of Time, a permanent Land Art Generator public artwork (more about this below) designed by Riccardo Mariano, traces the path of the sun across the sky, a way to measure time as sunlight rises and dwindles during the day. For the rest of the time, the triumphal arch serves as a spot to meet, linger, experience, and perform. At night, the local government can host cultural and artistic performances and activities to encourage the neighborhood to gather together and participate.


More so – thanks to the several solar panels topping the exterior of one of the world’s largest sundials and directly facing the sun to absorb sunlight – the architecture also offsets more than 100% of the power demand of the nearby Talento Bilingüe de Houston, a generational City-owned Latin cultural hub for performing arts in the East End. The expected energy-generated results make the Arch of Time a permanent solar photovoltaic artwork that sets a standard of environmental sustainability in public art.

world's largest sundial arch of time riccardo mariano
the Arch of Time by Riccardo Mariano at night with outdoor public events



World’s largest sundial with solar panels for public events


The Arch of Time is tailored to the specific latitude and longitude of Houston so that each beam of light is thoroughly and exactingly composed throughout the seasons and hours of the day by the geometry of the artwork. ‘The apparent movement of the sun in the sky activates the space with light and colors and engages viewers who participate in the creation of the work by their presence. It is a practical example to illustrate the movement of the earth around the sun in a playful way,’ says Riccardo Mariano.


The artist adds that the dubbed one of the world’s largest sundials also combines the need for renewable energy within public spaces with everyday life in the neighborhood. He was inspired by science, renewable energy, and art, propelling him to conceive an artwork that acts as a bridge between art and technology since the space will also be used as a stage for outdoor public events.


As the Arch of Time generates electricity for the city, and later on the state, it can gradually pay back the carbon footprint it creates during construction. The energy spent smelting the steel, drilling the architecture, and putting the final cladding into place, to name a few, can be regenerated due to its annual production of renewable electricity.

world's largest sundial arch of time riccardo mariano
at day, the Arch of Time by Riccardo Mariano can measure time through the sun’s direction



Permanent public art and renewable energy power plant


Riccardo Mariano first conceptualized one of the world’s largest sundials as an entry to the 2019 Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) design competition before it was chosen by the City of Houston as a permanent art installation and energy generator in Texas. The Arch of Time is led by the City’s Civic Art Program Manager and guided by representatives from multiple departments including The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, Houston Parks and Recreation, the Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities, Houston Public Works, the General Services Department, and the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability.


The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), a charity devoted to promoting climate solutions via art and design, has spent several years developing one of the world’s largest sundials with solar panels and a design that can naturally tell time. It is made possible by a group of contributors, with initial seed financing provided by the Acronym Fund, a foundation founded by Donald and Barbara Tober to advance arts and culture.


Mayor Sylvester Turner says that the Arch of Time is more than a permanent sculpture. It is also a renewable energy power plant and a monument to a new era of energy. ‘The City of Houston has always stood at the vanguard of energy innovation and the Arco del Tiempo (Arch of Time) artwork stands in that tradition, highlighting Houston’s role as an art city and as a global leader in the energy transition. We are inspired by the vision and creative thinking. Marrying clean energy, the built environment, and truly World Class art is Houston,’ says Mayor Sylvester Turner. 

world's largest sundial arch of time riccardo mariano
one of the world’s largest sundials is also an energy generator that can power up homes in Texas

world's largest sundial arch of time riccardo mariano
the Arch of Time by Riccardo Mariano is set to be permanently installed in the Houston’s East End

world's largest sundial arch of time riccardo mariano
one of the world’s largest sundials is slated to finish construction in 2024 in Houston



project info:


name: Arch of Time

design by: Riccardo Mariano

location: Second Ward at East End in Houston, Texas

charity: Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI)

administration: The City of Houston, Texas

mayor: Sylvester Turner