Landmark Sculpture Arrives at Richard Meier’s Timeless Tower in Taipei

Timeless Tower welcomes a monumental Richard Erdman sculpture. This January, a major work has come full circle: Richard has just returned from Taipei, Taiwan where he and team members oversaw the installation of the monumental Arete at Richard Meier & Partners‘  Timeless Tower.

“I’ve always admired Richard Meier,” says Richard. “He has his own language — It’s an honor to working with such a renowned architect.”

Timeless Tower

The Timeless Tower, formally known as the CDC Xin-Yi Residential Tower, was designed by Meier & Partners to, as they put it, “set a new precedent in Taiwan as a private building that dedicates its entire landscape to the public realm.” The tower constitutes a major addition to the Taipei skyline and its downtown, an area at the fore of Taiwan’s flourishing economic growth.

“For the site to be public is very unique and makes this project extremely rich,” said Meier & Partners’ Stefan L. Scheiber-Loeis.

As such, Arete is remarkable not only for its carefully deliberated aesthetic and monumental proportions, but for its selection as a highly visible and communally appreciated work of public art in a developing cityscape.


Timeless Tower

Making Arete

“I believe as an architect that a building, including its art, has to be very specific to its site,” Sheiber-Loeis said. In Richard’s bold Arete, he explained, Meier & Partners found “a counterpart to our very geometrical, strongly defined building with its hard lines, squares, and rectangles.”

Like so many of Richard’s sculptures, Arete has its origins in the marble quarries of Carrara, Italy: over the course of nearly two years, what began as a rough-edged, 40-ton block of stone was transformed to align with Richard’s vision of a complex, multi-faceted stonework in harmonious dialogue with a specific urban landscape. Next door to Timeless Tower is the landmark skyscraper Taipei 101, which at 101 stories and 1,671 feet tall, held the title of the world’s tallest building from 2004 until 2010. From Arete’s early beginnings as a tabletop plaster model, Richard intended a form that would interact with earth, sky, and water, while gracefully encompassing two entangled themes: the human drive for growth — reaching towards the heavens, as do both Timeless Tower and Taipei 101 — and the power of humility and remaining firmly connected to the ground, figuratively and literally.


Arete CDC begins to emerge

Once the sculpture’s general lines were determined, Richard and the studio team at Carrara’s SGF Scultura worked closely to select and extract a massive block of grey Italian Bardiglio marble from the ancient quarries. Richard chose to work with this particular stone for the interplay it would provide with Timeless Tower’s bleached white facade — unlike white Carrara marble, for example, the deep, textured grayness of the Bardiglio would not be lost when set against the skyscraper. The stone’s rich white veins, however, provide a more subtle complement to the tower, and lend the overall work an additional meditative dimension.


Carrara studio team members with Arete


Site Specific Sculpture

In Taipei, once delivered to the site, the team was tasked with the critical work of choosing how to place the sculpture. In keeping with the goal of facilitating a conscientious balance between nature, art, and the cityscape, the sculpture was ultimately arranged so one of its points gestures outwards from Timeless Tower towards Taipei 101, creating a visual link between these two urban giants.

Arete arrives at Timeless Tower

Now in its final place, Arete is the centerpiece of the public plaza that surrounds the tower. Among lush trees, residents and passersby can contemplate the work’s multitude of faces and characters: “They’re all very open and fluid,” Richard says, “everybody sees something different.” Not wanting for anything, the plaza will also feature a “Pebble” bench by British artist Ben Barrell, whom Richard had the privilege of meeting during his trip. Barrell’s bench will provide viewers the perfect respite from which to enjoy Arete‘s many pleasures.

A marble sculpture hangs askew as it is lifted by crane in front of the Timeless Tower

Installation at the plaza

Arete at Night

The dynamism of Arete goes further: installed on an illuminated fountain pedestal of granite, the work has another life after dark: “Those who experience Arete at night will have a different relationship to it,” Richard says, “because of the drama of the lights and water.” Several submerged bulbs light the work from below, projecting the water’s calm rippling onto Arete’s fluid surfaces. “Subliminally,” Richard observes, “the water tells you where the stone came from.” The marble, after all, was formed through the intense pressure of water upon layers of calcium carbonate — dead sea creatures. “Everybody feels the water brings more of infinity to the piece,” says Richard.

Arete at night in front of the Timeless Tower by Richard Meier