Visual Explorations of Our Daily Environment

New York City Elevation. © Scott Reinhard.


Visualizations by Scott Reinhard


From the ground, the scale of our landscape is slightly too large for us to comprehend its full character. Sometimes the features are too subtle, too substantial, or obscured by fixed elements. It can be difficult to understand the larger systems at play. That valley, the ridge, the shape of the mountains, the walk up the hill. They seem fixed and forever.

Mapmakers use caution when representing the topography of the Earth. There are other pieces of information to convey in a map along with physical geography, and besides, the range of elevation is quite small compared to the radius of the Earth. But unconstrained by formal training in cartography, and empowered by curiosity and the tools to process and review geographic data, I turned everything up to 11. At the graphic extremes, patterns emerge: glaciation, collisions, erosion, deep time. In its elevation lies the story of the land.

Working with geographic data also presents a new graphic medium to play with. These visualizations push representation in many directions—from hyper-detailed and realistic 3D renderings derived from LiDAR data to heavily abstracted and barely legible formal experiments. I don’t have an end goal, one map leads to the next, and there is an endless pool of data and tools to work with.


Western North Carolina. © Scott Reinhard.


World elevation, long shadows. © Scott Reinhard.


Great Lakes. © Scott Reinhard.


Southern Lake Michigan Region Elevation. © Scott Reinhard.


3D elevation + 1954 USGS Denali map. © Scott Reinhard.


3D elevation + 1894 USGS Asheville region map. © Scott Reinhard.


3D elevation + 1916 Geological Map of California. © Scott Reinhard.


3D elevation + 1878 USGS Yellowstone Geology Map. © Scott Reinhard.


Central Canada Plains. © Scott Reinhard.


Confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. © Scott Reinhard.


Mississippi River. © Scott Reinhard.


Great Lakes Bathymetry. © Scott Reinhard.


Coteau des Prairies Geographical Feature, South Dakota. © Scott Reinhard.


Texas Topography. © Scott Reinhard.


Washington State. © Scott Reinhard.


Northern Ohio Topography. © Scott Reinhard.


Central Park. © Scott Reinhard.


Eastburn Farm Lidar visualization, Greenwood, Indiana. © Scott Reinhard.


South Brooklyn Lidar Visualization. © Scott Reinhard.


Processing + elevation data of the conterminous United States. © Scott Reinhard.










Silver Lake, Wisconsin Bathymetry combined with a 1963 map. © Scott Reinhard.


New York State. © Scott Reinhard.


Ohio State. © Scott Reinhard.


You can purchase a selection of maps by Scott Reinhard at


Scott Reinhard is a Brooklyn-based graphic designer. He works at the New York multi-disciplinary design studio 2 × 4 and was formerly a Senior Designer at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and VSA Partners. Scott has taught in the Graduate Communications Design program at the Pratt Institute and holds a Master of Graphic Design from North Carolina State University. | |@scottreinhard

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