Grounds for Change: Activating Vacant Land

Explore / Play

Public space, education, recreation, and safety are serious considerations for anyone rehabilitating urban vacant lots. Explore the Play Category to find inspiring designs combining all of these elements in parks, community centers, playgrounds, and alternative transportation systems.

Neighboring buildings provide structural support for a tiered performance space.

Insert Use

Philadelphia, PA

An incremental approach to reclaiming vacant lots.

Exterior and interior of an abandoned house on LaClede Avenue, one of many left vacant thanks to Youngstown's housing surplus.

Lots of Green

Youngstown, OH

An ambitious plan to comprehensively repurpose a neighborhood's vacant properties.

One of two flow-through planter boxes framing the entrance to the Waterview Recreation Center.  (Flickr: philastories)

Waterview Recreation Center

Philadelphia, PA

A renovated community center incorporates streetside features to manage stormwater.

The external wall of the skate lab plainly shows its tire underpinnings.  (Dan Hughes,

Green Skate Laboratory

Washington, DC

A multi-purpose environmental education space, combining physical laboratory, classroom, and skateboarding bowl.

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.

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.

A vast array of playground equipment and surfaces populate South Philadelphia's Herron Park.  (Philadelphia Water Department)

Herron Playground

Philadelphia, PA

Water plays a major role in a South Philadelphia playground, from recreation to green infrastructure.

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.

The Produce Garden will sit side-by-side with a recreation field and basketball court.


Philadelphia, PA

Taking back the backyard