In “Intentions for the Unintentional: Spontaneous Vegetation as the Basis for Innovative Planting Design in Urban Areas” (JOLA, Autumn 2006), Norbert Kuehn writes,
To intervene in spontaneous vegetation to improve it aesthetically may seem as a contradiction: ‘spontaneous’ means that which occurs by chance, without conscious design intent. ‘Intervention’ means well-intended design work and creates more or less sophisticated new types of plantings that include some spontaneous vegetation. Essentially, there are four ways of dealing with spontaneous vegetation:
1. Maintaining the current state (status quo) through appropriate measures (for example, maintaining a meadow by mowing);
2. Allowing succession to proceed naturally (no intervention takes place: a new kind of wilderness will be created);
3. Effecting changes in succession through interventions (for example, creating an open grove-like effect by removing branches and shrubs in a mature stand);
4. Improving the aesthetic value by changing the species composition. (48)
As I move forward in the site selection process, I can imagine how each of these strategies could play out (and to some extent, are already being applied) at the Pruitt-Igoe and JNEM sites.