There is a blog on the Times site that features Nicholas de Monchaux, Assistant Prof at UC Berkeley (former Yale undergrad studio mate), who has developed, with his students, a program called Local Code. The Big Idea: use GIS information to identify the strange, leftover patches of pavement that belong to no one, are unmaintained, and whose density seems to prefigure other deeper health and societal issues. Near concentrations of these lots there is more crime, higher incidences of asthma, stormwater fiascos. So why not devise a strategy to fix them? It is worth watching the video alone; many clever graphic techniques.
The most fruitful post-article google search was on the work of artist Gordon Matta-Clark from the 1970’s. Fake Estates: Reality Properties was one major precedent de Moncheaux cited that suggested looking for, and acting upon, these “gutterspaces”. Matta-Clark searched out and acquired 15 of these land scraps from the City of New York (at $25 a piece), with the prospect of creating a network of urban artscapes upon them. The graphics above show the official documentation on one of the spaces and an incredible graph of the dimensional weirdness of these leftover sites. Genius. Matta-Clark died at 35, before completing the project.