ReClaim Ambassadors vacant lot designs come to life Posted on January 16, 2015 by Grounded Strategies Share this post As Ambassadors design, there are two ways to approach vacant land projects. Haven’t met our Ambassadors yet? Check out the Northsiders and McKeesporters who are participating in the ReClaim program year! ReClaiming a vacant lot takes a lot of imagination, time, and careful thought before you even break ground. That’s why our Ambassadors have been attending classes since last October. They’ve learned about how to transform vacant land into activated, green community spaces, the processes that come before and the partnerships that need to be forged to have a successful project. After much listening and learning, Ambassadors got to the fun part – putting their ideas onto paper. There are two distinct approaches to designing a space on vacant land – either start with a vacant lot or with an idea for a project. Both of these paths were taken as Ambassadors sat down with with local volunteer professional designers and started to articulate their wishes. Design is the roadmap to your project – James Snow, ReClaim McKeesport Project Manager A few Ambassadors started with the nuisance, trash-filled vacant lots near their home. This was the case for Shari Holland of McKeesport. The lot at the bottom of her hill sat empty for years since the municipality demolished an old structure. With that vacant lot in mind, Shari and her designer started to brainstorm ideas. Because the parcel is located at the entrance to her neighborhood, she decided to beautify the space with a gateway garden. Others began with an idea – like those looking for a place for their kids and grandkids to play, a place for community gatherings, or somewhere to grow their own food, like Rhonda Moorer of McKeesport. Since Rhonda is very active in her church, she knows that a need exists for a well-maintained outdoor space that can serve as a gathering place for the community. She found the perfect lot down the street from her church and began designing. Come spring, neighborhood Ambassadors will begin working on 24 different projects across Allegheny County. Special thanks to the architects and designers who shared their time with Ambassadors, Rebecca Mizikar from Origin4Design, Joe Perkovish from Tsuga Studios, Jen Gallagher from Studio for Spatial Practice, Frank Dawson and Ryan Mustio from Astorino, the folks at IKM– Ben Clements, Jon Lusin, Robyn Engle, Cameron Logan, Mark Brandfass–as well as Carla Lukehart and Jenn Rogers. How about you – which path would you take to start designing the lot of your dreams?