Grounds for Change: Activating Vacant Land

Explore / Lots of Lots

More space means bigger opportunities: long-term, large-scale operations working to fit the needs of entire neighborhoods. Lots of Lots collects examples of—and ideas for—rehabilitating former industrial sites, entire blocks, and other big vacant sites requiring complex planning. Projects like these offer city governments and corporations the chance to support communities through funding, operational support, and policy change.

How much can one acre yield?  A city rife with vacant lots is a city ripe with potential.


Philadelphia, PA

Using neighborhood ownership of urban farms to support local businesses and food security.

The composted soil is used to construct a new ground.

Horizontal Integration

Philadelphia, PA

A public park and soil farm constructed from Delaware River dredge material.

Neighboring buildings provide structural support for a tiered performance space.

Insert Use

Philadelphia, PA

An incremental approach to reclaiming vacant lots.

Research continues into the biofuel potentials of sunflowers and other crops grown at ALMONO.

ALMONO Brownfield

Pittsburgh, PA

A former steel manufacture complex fosters experimental models in brownfield remediation and biofuel production.

Joggers enjoy the many walking paths throughout the Parc.

Parc du Sausset


A mixed-use large-scale park influenced by vernacular French landscapes.

Aerial view of Mill Race Park shows its location in downtown Columbus, Indiana.

Mill Race Park

Columbus, OH

A landscape of large views and spaces, designed to be flooded.

Grupo Desiño Urbano’s illustrative master plan identifies three main landscape zones, a mix of geometric shapes and curvilinear forms.

Xochimilco Ecological Park

Mexico City,

A large-scale ecological restoration and productive landscape inspired by Xochimilco's landscape history.

Eco Boulevard combines elements of urban forestry—saplings in the foreground—and a temporary, wind-powered community center to help revitalize this large urban thoroughfare.  (Emilio P. Doiztua & Roland Halbe)

Eco Boulevard


A temporary climate control structure and urban plaza in Madrid.

Eastwick Alleywalk proposes to rehabilitate a vacant parcel in Southwest Philadelphia as a major point of intersection in a new, enhanced network of bicycle-friendly streets.

Eastwick Alleywalk

Philadelphia, PA

Creating corridors and connecting parks and the city.

Photo by Flickr user ItzaFineDay

Urban Farming

Southfield, MI

Grassroots urban agriculture organization in Detroit.

Added Value is a non-profit organization promoting the sustainable development of Red Hook by nurturing a new generation of young leaders.

Added Value

Brooklyn, NY

An organization to promote the sustainable development of Red Hook by nurturing a new generation of young leaders

Row houses and hoop houses coexist peacefully at Greensgrow’s Kensington location.

Greensgrow Farms

Philadelphia, PA

A nursery, farm market, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in Philadelphia, PA

Vacant lots before composting, and after they have been reforested and farmed.

Compost City

Philadelphia, PA

Re-using biosolids to rehabilitate Philadelphia's urban landscape