Mobile Mapping!

6/15/2021 My latest funded grant is $24,950 for Google Street View Tools (and more) for Remote and In-Person Instruction. This Cal Poly Pomona Special Projects to Improve Classroom Experience (SPICE) Grant funded by Student Success Fees.

Inspiration for the proposal was the virtual field trip I planned for LA3121L spring ’21 Salton Sea studio and getting to borrow MediaVision’s Insta360 Pro2 8k panoramic video camera to document the project site for Google Street View. Over two road-trips in January, I recording dozens of miles of Imperial County roads and hiking along shoreline with the camera jury-rigged to car and mounted on backpack.

The grant will enable getting a dedicated camera, proper mounts to allow students to use the camera, precision RTK GPS IMUs, a powerful Dell Precision 5280 workstation, and storage cabinets.

Grant Application File

‘(and More)’ in the grant title is establishing the ENV Advanced Design Computing Lab in collaboration with Prof. Weimin Li who also got a SPICE grant to purchase a multi-touch tabletop computer for interactive geodesign instruction. While the final location of the lab is TBD, we will be getting two storage cabinets to house our collection of drones, environmental sensors, the 360 panoramic camera and camera mounts, and other items crowding our faculty offices for students/colleagues to access.

Landscape Futurist 2018

Had the pleasure of being the final speaker in CPPLA’s spring 2018 lecture series with a talk titled “Landscape Futures” that covered my recent scholarship visualizing the interface between infrastructure, ecology, and culture.

You can watch my entire talk on Facebook:

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The rest of my slides are below.

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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

AF Exhibit


Exhibit Flyer

Days from the printer’s deadline for completing the exhibit and everything is coming together with the help of Jonathan Linkus and our great closing team of research assistants (Jane, Ernesto, & Kevin).

One change worth noting is is the public reception has been shifted to Tuesday, December 3rd, 9am-11am!

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Fall mid-review

The public is invited to attend the fall mid-review presentations for LA301L and LA401L at Cal Poly Pomona on Monday, October 29th.

301L teams are identifying culturally relevant sites along the LA Aqueduct and discussing the landscape character. 401L students have mapped the water-energy nexus for Los Angeles and are selecting sites to enhance the resilience of the Aqueduct (plus there is a team who are hoping to win the EPA’s Campus RainWorks Competition).

Guest Jurors

  • 301L: Andrew Kanzler, Perry Cardoza
  • 401L: Robert Lamb, Jonathan Linkus

Cal Poly central campus map [pdf]

Please send a note if you are interested in being a guest juror for either mid-review session or final presentations (November 28th)

Beth Meyer – CELA Keynote

[This post is my notes from CELA 2012 at the University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign blogged live - so pardon the rough grammar and 

Elizabeth Meyer, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Virginia. Professor Meyer is one of the leading theorists in landscape architecture today. Meyer has lectured on four continents, and published essays on practice and theory of contemporary landscape design, notably “The Post-Earth Day Conundrum: Translating Environmental Values into Landscape Design” in Environmentalism in Landscape Architecture (Dumbarton Oaks 2001), “Sustaining Beauty: The Performance of Appearance,” in the European Journal of Landscape Architecture (Spring 2008), and “Slow Landscapes: A New Erotics of Sustainability,” featured in Harvard Design Magazine (Winter 2010). Meyer’s teaching and scholarly interests focus on three areas: modern landscape theory, contemporary practice of landscape criticism, and the idea of site interpretation. In 2011, Meyer was named one of the year’s “most admired educators” in the annual Design Intelligence rankings.

-CELA program [PDF]

Beyond Sustaining Beauty. Musing on a Manifesto

Published in raw form as a manifesto, it was not a very scholarly essay. Didn’t know what she was getting into. Republshed from JoLA in LAM – response was unexpected – tears of joy, shouts of disgust – so here are musings about unexamined assumptions. An intellectual and political work in process. Parts will be a new book shortly. Close readings of landscapes and immersion in cultural and ecological theory. Musings and reflection are of value for finding voice in non-academic work. Intended to provoke as much as persuade – so manifesto allowed challenge to status quo. Manifestos allow students to ground themselves into the theory.

The tenets of the manifesto:

  1. Sustaining culture through landscape
  2. Cultivating Hybrids: Language of Landscape
  3. Beyond Ecological Performance
  4. Natural Process Over Natural Form
  5. Hypernature: The Recognition of Art
  6. The Performance of Beauty
  7. Sustainable Design = Constructing Experiences
  8. Sustainable Beauty is Particular, Not Generic
  9. Sustainable Beauty is Dynamic, Not Static
  10. Enduring Beauty is Resilient and Regenerative
  11. Landscape Agency: From Experiences to Sustainable Praxis

Post-generative sites don’t engage entanglement such as  AMD Park, pictures of Tear Drop Park, Allegheny Riverfront Park, Royal Botanical Gardens (Australia). 10th point least substantiated, based on Ann Spirn and Dewey’s.


1. Beauty isn’t mailable – public taste is fixed, only pleasurable and insipid. Kantian disinterest. Ohlmstead’s Fens example. Barbeiri’s photos of interchanges, inspiring enrique

miralles. Fashion has changed over last 100 years and the idea of female beauty. Ugly is the origin of beauty – dissonant beauty can be seen in AMD Park.

Conchelieu (sp?), naturalization of plastic and plasticization of humanity. Plus conversation with John Beardsley – magical circumstantial. To the strangely familiar – between found and constructed nature. Inspired by photomontages of Hannah Hoch and Emmet Gowen’s photos.


Question of understanding beauty in relationship to aesthetics from folks not knowing post-modern writings of sublime, and stretching of categories into new forms.

Tangled forcefield of effects, rhythms and flows that make up the modern world. Aesthetics requires a pause, a duration – terry egleton: ‘whole of our sensate together.. rooted in the gaze and gut.’ Virginia Pastrel ‘ art of creating reactions without words… a force that generates… commonality’ into social aestherics ‘own intrinsic value’. Beauty is just one of many aesthetic experiences. Need to understand and name them and their agencies. Sarah Goldhargen’s ‘Park here’ in New Republic about Laurie Garden, Highline and ?


Aesthetics are beyond the immediate, the view or the glance. aesthetics are slow that mix cognition and perception. neuroscience of emphatic responses. delayed requires duration. it is what you know, not what you experience. Beauty is connected but not exhausted by appearance. Opening when beauty stirs the soul.  Andre Bearsten (sp?) on aesthetic intuition – feeling that supplement intuition – its own form of cognition. Neuroscience is backing up these 100 year old philosophy. marks of the creator (brush strokes) create empathy with the making of the art – so made things may provoke more response then the natural.

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Tactical Infrastructure – LA402L 2012 Final Projects

I’m pleased to share the final projects from LA402L Winter 2012, the tactical infrastructure studio at Cal Poly Pomona that explored the opportunities in the Northeastern San Fernando Valley.

Rico Molden, Carly McNeil, and Garret Reger’s The River That Could

The Urban Quilt of San Fernando Valley from Yorvin Moreno, Jonathan Alarcon, and Rene Orta

A New Vision for Hansen Dam from Karla Benitez, Kelly Espinoza, and Rey Rebolledo

Reconciled Ecology – San Fernando Road by E. Cortes, M. Okada, J.H. Wang

(to view this video you need to enter password: Infrascape Design)

Jungle Gyms of the Past

Playgrounds have lost a sense of imagination since the lawyers got involved, resulting in boredom and lack of use (plus their style can be best described as a pastiche mixed together by a committee). There is a burgeoning renaissance of high-design returning to playgrounds (such as recent parks by Van Valkenburg in NYC or the ‘Rollercoaster Walkway’ in Germany – though these seem more for adults than kids).

Jungle Gyms date back to 1923 and were a feature of progressive k-12 education. Now most risky play activities has been regulated out of existence for younger children – so there is a documented loss of self-assurance and an increased fear of heights. Risky play is essential for development per  Dr. Sandseter:

  • exploring heights,
  • experiencing high speed,
  • handling dangerous tools,
  • being near dangerous elements (like water or fire),
  • rough-and-tumble play (like wrestling), and
  • wandering alone away from adult supervision.

“Climbing equipment needs to be high enough, or else it will be too boring in the long run,” Dr. Sandseter said. “Children approach thrills and risks in a progressive manner, and very few children would try to climb to the highest point for the first time they climb. The best thing is to let children encounter these challenges from an early age, and they will then progressively learn to master them through their play over the years.” 

… “There is no clear evidence that playground safety measures have lowered the average risk on playgrounds,” said David Ball, a professor of risk management at Middlesex University in London. He noted that the risk of some injuries, like long fractures of the arm, actually increased after the introduction of softer surfaces on playgrounds in Britain and Australia.

“This sounds counterintuitive, but it shouldn’t, because it is a common phenomenon,” Dr. Ball said. “If children and parents believe they are in an environment which is safer than it actually is, they will take more risks. An argument against softer surfacing is that children think it is safe, but because they don’t understand its properties, they overrate its performance.” – nytimes

As the father of a 3 1/2 y.o., I wish he could experience the playgrounds of the ’70s that formed the core of my childhood. I’m willing to trade a few bumps, bruises, and perhaps a broken bone or two to help build his character and physical development – especially since most of these play structures required imagination to use.  The rest of this post is a few of the cool play structures worthy of celebration and having in your neighborhood!

Swiss cheese

OH Newton Falls - Playground

[anybody know who designed these pre-cast concrete pieces?]


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Call for Jurors & Guests – Winter 2012

For my upcoming 4th year BSLA studio at Cal Poly Pomona, Sublime Infrastructures: Sylmar, I’m seeking Los Angeles based documentary filmmakers (directors, editors, sound folks, cinematographers) and landscape architects with an interest in the city, infrastructure, sustainability, tactical urbanism, and the sublime to be class guests.  Guests will either serve as jurors or assist the students in producing videos that integrate their designs and analysis drawings with footage of the city.

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Bike Pasture Update

Just got word that the Bike Pasture Project lead by Ms. Emily Lowery and Elizabeth Turner got $15k from the Minnesota Student Association! Can’t wait to see it built!

More info:

Book Review – SOAK: Mumbia in an Estuary by Anu Mathur and Dilip Da Cunha

[Originally published in Landscape Journal 30:2 (PDF) – this is my original manuscript.  The blog post includes additional links and photos.]

SOAK: Mumbai in an Estuary by Anuradha Mathur / Dilip da Cunha. Trapeze [Ram Sinam], Bangalore, Book & Exhibition Design. 2009. New Delhi: Rupa & Co. 216 pages (including: front/back piece, Note from the Director of NGMA, Foreword by Arjun Appadurai & Carol Breckenridge, Preface, Epilogue, Glossary, Image Lexicon, Notes, Author Biography). Color and black-and-white illustrations and photographs. Book Size: 9.5×11 inches. $125 [$195], hardcover. ISBN 9788129114801

By Barry Lehrman

SOAK: Mumbai in an Estuary by Anuradha Mathur and Dilip da Cunha is a beguiling book that advances the leadership of landscape architecture in redefining our cities.  Moving between serious scholarship about the cartographic history of India, to creating an alternative mapping of Mumbai using sections and photographs, and concluding with proposing twelve design ‘initiations’ (08) that reintroduce the ability of the landscape to soak up the monsoon – the book expands our understanding of place-making.  The tension between applying scholarship to the design process is the reoccurring theme of their previous works, Mississippi Floods  (2001) and Deccan Traverses: The Making of Bangalore’s Terrain (2006), and their practice as landscape architects and educators.  With Soak, Mathur and da Cunha’s inquiry into iterative drawing has fully matured and engages in a larger cultural dialog (though perhaps a smaller terrain) then their previous works.

Soak emerged from an exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi that was developed in response to the 2005 monsoon floods in Mumbai caused by almost a meter of precipitation falling in just one day.  The book’s thesis is that artificial delineation of land from water is impossible to maintain in the territory of the monsoon and requires a new approach to place-making that enables permeable boundaries between land and sea.

An estuary demands gradients not walls, fluid occupations not defined by land use, negotiated moments not hard edges. In short it demands the accommodation of the sea not the war against it…’ (04)

Soak is an appreciation of an aqueous terrain. It encourages designs that hold monsoon waters rather than channel them out to sea; that work with gradient of an estuary; that accommodate uncertainty through resilience, not overcome it with prediction.’ (09)

Historically, rainwater from the monsoon was captured on all available surfaces for use during the dry season, versus the engineered 20th century system of storm drains and sea walls that seek to move precipitation out to sea as quickly as possible and to prevent the tides from washing over former mudflats.  With the failure of the engineered system to handle the deluge of 2005, Mathur and da Cunha were invited to propose alternative landscape solutions that became the exhibition and the book.

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I’m heading to Pittsburgh tomorrow for Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference to present a poster [pdf] [visit us at board #121 in the expo hall Monday 4-6] for the Zero+ Campus Project and to support the fabulous Elizabeth Turner who will be presenting the student engagement aspects of the Z+ project [Wednesday, room 403 @8:20]. At the conference, I’m going to participate in the Sustainability Curriculum Convocation too. More posts to follow on the conference and Pittsburgh.

Gotta thank LA department at Cal Poly for enabling my trip, so I’m representing them too with some swag to recruit grad students and possible faculty.

Z+ AASHE poster

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