Sensing the infrascape

Since 2013, I’ve acquired and deployed a range of environmental sensors. My initial plans for the data were to define baseline environmental (which ended up being beyond my means). Finally figured out how to merge my inner Maker with my infrastructural fascination by using environmental data streams in interactive design elements that poetically reveal hidden flows and changes or creates immersive experiences.

This concept – researching how revealing environmental conditions and technological flows along infrastructural pipes and wire in situ can generate awareness to inspire behavior change with public, combines several of my research interests and is the focus of my fall 2017 sabbatical project .

So what sensors and data loggers do I have?


First online in 2013, my Onset HOBO U30 data logger is configured to collect ETo data (1@air temp/humidity, 2@ ground temp, 2@soil moisture, 1@net radiation, 1@wind speed, just missing a rain gauge) on my patio. This entry-level research-grade suite of sensors and the data logger cost about $3,000, and serves as my reference to calibrate the other sensors as needed. The U30 has the ability to control two relays and to send an alarm signal that can trigger other microcontrollers. But Onset has created a proprietary ecosystem with limited customization possible (and haven’t found anybody trying to hack them yet).


Seeeduino Stalker v2.3

About the size of a deck of cards, the Stalker v2.3, an ATmega328P Arduino compatible wireless sensor node packaged with a 0.5 watt PV panel and LiPo battery, supporting a range of sensors and networking options. This was the microcontroller used by the students in my LA301L studio in 2014, so I now have 5 of them, a ZigBee (XBee) wireless mesh networking shield (a low energy version of wifi, that I haven’t gotten to work), a Bee GPS card, two Grove Dust Sensors, a 8×8 LED matrix, a 10 LED bar, and several other sensors.


Image from SeeedStudio

Smart Citizen Kit

I got on board the kickstart campaign for a Smart Citizen Kit and ran into some difficulties deploying it. Instead of real-time streaming data via wifi to, it has been sitting in a box since I ripped the USB jack off the board (the 3D printed enclosure is too small!). This was after I used the wrong settings while configuring it and lost the ability to communicate to it via USB, which Acrobotic kindly fixed by reburning the bootloader.

Teensy 3.6

For 2017’s sabbatical project, I’m getting a $30 Teensy 3.6, an Arduino compatible development board featuring a much faster processor (32-bit 180 MHz ARM Cortex-M4 processor) and loaded with 256kb RAM plus all sorts of goodies (specs). It is powerful enough to drive thousands of LED pixels (or hundreds of animation frames), yet only 2.5 inches long!

Check out:

I’ve also been eying getting 2 or more Feather M0 with RFM95 LoRa Radio – 900MHz if I need wireless networking abilities – as the LoRA protocol is supposed to be simpler to implement then ZigBee and they have a much longer range.


Hydrodynamic Modeling

Hydrodynamic Modeling of Coastal Flooding

LA402L utilized the USGS Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS) 3rd generation hydrodynamic models for Southern California  to identify areas at risk for inundation and interpolated the timeline in consultation with Dr. Juliette Hart.

Hydrodynamic Sea Level Impacts LB-01

Earlier sea level models were static state, so didn’t factor in the significant contribution of waves to coastal flooding, above and beyond the levels observed by the tidal gauges. Interesting to note that the predicted sea levels are higher than the current tsunami risk zone delineation.


03 RISK BOARD 2017_02_03-01.png

The full LA402L Sea Level Rise Strategies Report: LA402L_LB_SLR_Report-web 51mb.pdf


DCxMA Sea Level Rise Strategies

Over ten weeks in the winter of 2017, sixteen BSLA students my LA402L Advanced Landscape Architecture Studio at California State Polytechnic University, in collaboration with AHBE Landscape Architects (Los Angeles), developed site-specific strategies and tactics to assist the City of Long Beach’s efforts to plan for sea level rise (SLR).


Sea Level Rise strategies and tactics identified by the students of LA402L provide a range of short term mitigation tactics of the impacts and/or long-term adaptation opportunities for the community and waterfront. These strategies and tactics can be categorized as:

Centralized: defined by top-down policies or regulations, neighborhood or community-wide deployment, and reliance on public funding to implement.

Decentralized: implementable by individual property owners and occupants to protect a single building, parcel, or block. These strategies and tactics may require changes to the zoning or building code, and/or innovative construction approaches.

Together with the mitigation and adaptation strategies and tactics (below), the matrix of Decentralized/Centralized and Mitigation/Adaptation is abbreviated as “DCxMA”. Continue reading


LA402L AHBE Long Beach Waterfront Studio

Excited to share that AHBE Landscape Architects is sponsoring my winter 2017 402L studio! This 4th year BSLA topic studio will develop strategies and tactics for the waterfront of Long Beach and communities along the Lower Los Angeles River to adapt to rising sea levels, urban flooding, and tsunamis. From tactics to schematics, projects will develop site-specific soft infrastructure typologies suitable for wide-scale deployment around Southern California to sustain our ports and vibrant waterfronts.


Screen shot from showing the inundation from just a 10 foot rise in sea level.

Our field investigations will take us to Long Beach and out onto San Pedro Bay to explore the interface between water and land (the bravely curious students may need to take Dramamine).

Infrascape readers will be able to follow the students’ progress via their blog posts to

Stay tuned for updates!




mapping the h20 energy nexus

Honored to be able to contribute several illustrations to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative book and excited to share them on my blog.

LAGI SoCAL H20 Cycle v4 FLAT

Historic Power Lines FLAT

LAGI LA aqueductsheds FLAT v4

LAGI LA Energysheds FLAT
Click for sources   Continue reading


Land Art Generator Initiative Lecture 2-19


Elizabeth Monoian & Robert Ferry, Co-founders of LAGI. Photo by Joanna Totolici,  TOTOLICI.COM

Excited to share that artist Elizabeth Monoian & architect Robert Ferry, co-founders of Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) are giving a public lecture at 5pm in the atrium of Building 7 on Friday 2/19 at Cal Poly Pomona.

Prior to the lecture, they will be guests in my LA302L & LA402L studios that are designing entries for the 2016 LAGI competition (entry deadline is May 15th), set adjacent to the Santa Monica Pier.

D7K_1451 cropped

Site visit with LA302L & LA402L

LAGI 2016 is an ideas competition to design a site-specific public artwork that, in addition to its conceptual beauty, has the ability to harness energy cleanly from nature and convert it into electricity and/or drinking water for the City [of Santa Monica].


The lecture is being co-sponsored by the Cal Poly Pomona Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.



Plane Spotting


This gallery contains 58 photos.

Toured LAX’s airfield with my LA301L studio on Monday 10/26 to see what we could see. Highlights include the Argo Ditch, sculptures by Ball+Nogales, and several A380 taking off! Argo Ditch (north side of the airfield) Advertisements