Final Project


The final project will take the form of a full-scale site-specific installation. The content and concept of each project is open, although each project must be site-specific

Groups of four or five will design, develop and install a site-specific installation on an off-campus building or natural site. Installations must be either interactive/reactive or data-driven. The goal of the final project is to put to use all of the techniques and concepts developed over the last semester.


Through the course of a week-long design phase, groups will need to research their selected site and determine a relevant concept and form for their project. This process includes understanding the history and current usage of the site, the specific demographic that will be viewing their work and the environmental and physical constraints of the site.
Once designed, groups will have $500 to spend on materials and equipment. Fully-functioning projects must be installed on site and documented by December 18. Groups are free to install their work any time before that date.


  1. Must be interactive or reactive using local sensor data OR data-driven using a historical data set or live data source
  2. Projects must be robust enough to last outside for at least three days.
  3. Installations may not harm or modify existing structures unless permission was explicitly granted by location owner.


  • November 30 : Mid-Review Blog Post and Crit
    • Site/Community analysis
    • Conceptual drawings
    • Diagrams outlining technical architecture of project
    • Proof of concept prototype (to prove that your tech/data is viable)
  • December 11 – 15 : Installation on Site
    • Projects must be installed on site, in coordination with the site owner
    • Fully functioning, no “wizard of oz”
  • December 18, Midnight : Final Documentation Due
    • Blog post
    • High quality, edited video with voice over or text describing project
    • At least four high-resolution images of the work. Must include people viewing/interacting with work
    • Final diagram of technical setup (including hardware and software)
    • Final write-up of the project… how did it work? What would you do differently?

Previous Projects

  1. Audio Window
  2. Ghost Pier
  3. Emoto Pod
  4. Flight To Freedom


We have pre-selected three possible sites for groups to design around. Groups are free to find different sites, in which case they will be required to obtain any necessary permission and will be responsible for communicating with the site owner.

3577 Bigelow Blvd

Located at a high-traffic intersection, this location once housed a multi-level auto body shop, but now houses a recording studio, art studios and a fabrication shop. Groups would have access to the roof to hang installations over the facade (which will soon be refinished).

Row House Cinema

Located in the heart of Lawrenceville. From their website: “Row House Cinema is a single screen theater in the historic Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Each week we choose a new movie theme.” This site has been used twice in two previous iterations of RSMA to great success. Groups would have access to both the inside of the theater (for sensing and data gathering) and would be able to install their works on the side or rear of the building.

Arsenal Bank Building

Located across the street from Row House Cinema, the Arsenal Bank Building is a recently renovated bank that now houses three floors of apartments and was home to the recently-closed Tender Bar and Kitchen. The corner of the building faces Butler Street and sees a large amount pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Groups would be able to install their work in front of the building or on the side.

Team Questionnaire

Link to Form

Airport Project – Alex, Ammani & Lumi

Pittsburgh’s Live Map

For this project, we wanted to help travelers coming into Pittsburgh better understand the city by providing them with live data about the city. A cloth map with neopixel strips showing live traffic and LEDs denoting the locations of various restaurants, museums etc. will be affixed to the roof. Pittsburgh has a lively and growing cultural scene with many new restaurants. The LED’s with locations that are open will light up. The traffic and the LEDs will showcase how the city is always alive!

PS. Changed the published date so it would be before the posts from last Thursday.

Airport Proposal: Glow Pittsburgh

Brandon Darreff & Nitesh Sridhar

For this project we pulled data from Twitter’s API around Pittsburgh and animated fiber optics based on live tweets. We chose three major Pittsburgh tech hubs (East Liberty, Oakland, & Downtown) and focused data around those regions. Each area is abstractly hinted at through wireframe building models most closely associated with them. For tweets which are tied to these geographical locations, their respective buildings light up. If the location associated with the tweet is outside of these regions or absent from the tweets, the entire installation lights up blue.

Airport Proposal: Pittsburgh Delta

Lisa, Leah, Qiao

In order to celebrate Pittsburgh’s new focus on technology and culture, our team is proposing Pittsburgh Delta, a data-driven, informative sculpture that hangs from the Pittsburgh International Airport’s atrium ceiling. This sculpture visually informs Airport visitors about the different events that are happening in the city of Pittsburgh.

For those who are pressured on time, Pittsburgh Delta, will serve as an abstract tessellation (consists of individual moving equilateral triangles) representation of a map of the city of Pittsburgh that calls out different event location hotspots.

For those visitors with a bit more time to explore, they are able to actively interact with the installation for a more legible visualization of the data. After visitors connect to the Airport’s free WIFI through their smartphone, they will be presented with a Pittsburgh Delta ad. This web page will inform visitors about the sculpture and also how to locate it. It will give visitors the ability to read into details about the events that are happening in Pittsburgh through Ticketmaster and Eventbrite.

Currently we are using the Ticketmaster dmaID API. Specifically, we are parsing data for the city of Pittsburgh area based on venue locations and the number of events.  

The tessellation map consists of individual moving equilateral triangles. There will be a minimum default movement assigned to all triangle: meaning even if there are no events happening, the map will still maintain a constant movement.  

When there are events happening, the venue location data will determine which area on the map will increase beyond the default movement. 

The number of events in a specific venue will determine the severity of movement to each individual triangle in that area.

functional Model:

Airport Data Driven Model – Morgan, Shen, Jon


The idea of our model was to create a large fabric display of the city, that responds to data and changes it’s shape appropriately. We were inspired by Daniel Leithinger’s Interactive Shape Display’s, but wanted to simplify the mechanism for changing the shape. Therefore, we decided to use fans for this. The rivers in turn would be represented by strips of light.

Our design would look something like this:

As we were already moving the display with fans, we choose to draw our data from an API that follows wind speed in Pittsburgh. The fan powering the display would change its power based on the actual wind speed. The shapes loosely represent the topography of Pittsburgh, with the largest bulge being Mt. Washington

Here are images of our model, looking in on the airport:

And looking above, as a traveler would:

Here are videos of our finished model in action:

Airport Project – MacKenzie, Victoria, Willow

Uniquely Pittsburgh

This project evolved from birds and the national aviary to things that make Pittsburgh, well, Pittsburgh. This city has a lot of unique features, the language, the sandwiches, the chairs that reserve parking spots, the bridges, the neighborhoods…the list goes on. However, only some of these features were captured in datasets. We focused on several for now, the bridges, the neighborhoods, the stairs, the steep hills, the fish frys, and the outlier…retaining walls.

Using this data in an abstract way we layered geometric cutouts of the neighborhoods in frost acrylic, showing which neighborhoods had the most of these unique features. Visitors to the airport are able to interact with the map and toggle each of the features on and off…giving them the opportunity to see what neighborhood has what.


Moving forward:

We would love to gather more data and begin to plot those as well as explore a more literal representation of the neighborhoods. Since we abstracted the data quite a bit, this might map in a more interesting way.

Bottoms Up – Pittsburgh Airport Project

Bottoms Up

By Johnny, Soojin, Sujay


Bottoms Up is an installation that showcases Pittsburgh’s beer locations. It retrieves a list of beer locations from a beer mapping API ( and filters out the phone numbers. It randomly selects a phone number every 15 seconds, and plays a chime according to each digit of the number. The chimes are driven by solenoids, and an LED in the middle of the beer bottle lights up after every phone number finishes.


By choosing a beer mapping API, we believe will provide a novel way for local micro-breweries in Pittsburgh to connect with visiting as well as native travelers passing across the airport terminal. This will also help generate an additional revenue model for the airport authority from the advertising fee paid by the breweries. The information value generated by the installation will targeted for 21+ demographic, however, young travelers are expected to be able to experience and enjoy the soothing sounds generated by the installation. Maintenance costs is likely to be incurred for the solenoids but the independently controllable design for the solenoids should permit ease of replacement.





node.js + Johnny-Five


Johhny-Five is a well-documented javascript library that leverages Arduino’s StandardFirmataPlus to allow for direct control of an Arduino, Raspberry Pi or other microcontroller straight forward and accessible. In this tutorial will walk through how to use it to control a physical output via an Arduino Uno.


  1. Arduino Uno board
  2. Arduino IDE
  3. node.js
  4. Johnny-Five module (npm install --save johnny-five)


  1. Create and initialize a new directory for this node.js system
    1. mkdir j5_test
    2. cd j5_test
    3. npm init
  2. Install and save the Johnny-Five package
    1. npm install --save johnny-five
  3. Upload the StandardFirmataPlus firmware to your Arduino
    1. Open Arduino application and plug in your Arduino
    2. Open File>Examples>Firmata>StandardFirmataPlus
    3. Upload to your Arduino and close the Arduino application
  4. Use a text editor to open a new file and call it j5_test.js
  5. Copy and paste this code:

Twitter Example

Airport Project, lumi alex ammani

In the spirit of technology and travel, we decided to incorporate the growing commerce scene of Pittsburgh in to our installation. We envision a semi-translucent fabric stretched across the skylight, so that natural light can still penetrate.

Crisscrossing over the fabric would be el-wire laid out to match a map of Pittsburgh; businesses like restaurants, stores, museums and other points of interest would be depicted as clusters of colored transparent discs. Live travel data represented as glow traveling along the wire would activate the installation and help to encourage travelers out into the city.

Back-lit by the sun during the day and incandescent lighting at night, the projections on the floor would encourage visitors and travelers to look up and take in all that this growing, culturally vibrant city has to offer.

Project 02 – Peripheral Data Display


The Pittsburgh International Airport is looking for proposals for a data-driven, informational sculpture to occupy the main atrium of the Airmall. This space currently houses an Alexander Calder hanging mobile, which will be replaced.


In an effort to attract more business to the shops and restaurants within the air-side terminal, the airport has modified their policies to allow non-traveling visitors to enter the air-side terminal. To celebrate this change and attract more visitors, the Airport Authority wants to install a data-driven, informative sculpture that celebrate’s the city’s new focus on technology and culture.
The proposal does not state what type of information they want displayed or to what degree of legibility they require. The sculpture can be floor-mounted or hanging within the atrium. The Airport explicitly wants to visualize information from external APIs and the information should be relative to visitors within the atrium.


Design and build a functional model of your proposed sculpture. This model will need to use real data, either from an external API or from a historical dataset. The project can be as legible or abstract as you want, but be conscious about how your are affected the existing architecture.


  1. Groups of 2 or 3 will develop a small, functional model of the proposal.
  2. Your project must access a web-based API or historical dataset.
  3. Each group must write a blog post at the end of the project that visualizes the project and shows video and photo documentation of the model


  • Tues Oct 31 : Initial concept due
  • Thurs Nov 9: Crit.