Beginning with the position that mowing vacant property is really about maintaining a neighborhood, and that by using the formal logic of mowing operations we can pattern the landscape to communicate care, provide access, and give an aesthetic signature to vague terrain, infrastructural mowing becomes the instrument to guide the shrinking city. Vacancy, like “open space,” implies that this land is void and reifies land value as simply what can be constructed on it, but by zooming out to the neighborhood scale what becomes visible is a landscape network that is closely tied to stream, rail, and power easements and could potentially provide a multiplicity of uses — ecological, recreational, economically productive and otherwise. By identifying and teasing out these other values, a balance may be struck between redevelopment (i.e. architecture) and landscape infrastructure.
As a municipal strategy, large parcels serve as anchors for the district and are patterned to create a finer neighborhood grain. This mowing creates occupiable frames around spontaneous vegetation and spatial volumes within areas already “overgrown,” understanding the forest as a flexible landscape typology of multiple uses. These tool paths may eventually become templates for future street organization and the resulting forest grid the site for future structures, but the urban design concept remains mediated by context. Alongside this strategy is the establishment of “maintenance axes” which prioritize smaller adjacent parcels, medians and easements along major auto, bike and pedestrian corridors. As a thrifty way of establishing neighborhood “green streets,” the axes link large parcels and maintain an image of care throughout the neighborhood.