spontaneous urban plants

Weeds in NYC

BY David Seiter with Future Green Studio

Although we tend to think of our cities as concrete jungles, our post-new urban environment is awash in plant life. Wild urban plants have taken root along roadsides and chain-link fences, between cracks of pavement, and within vacant lots, rubble dumps and highway medians. Spontaneously propagating, these resilient plants find distinctive niches to thrive in and inhabit our most derelict landscapes. The environmental benefits of these “weeds” go widely unrecognized when, in fact, reframing this often invisible urban ecology as a beneficial amenity can offer a fresh perspective on how cities perform.

Spontaneous Urban Plants investigates the role of weeds in the urban ecosystem by profiling a cross section of weeds. The intent is to stimulate a discourse between ecologists, designers, artists and the general public that explores societal perceptions of weeds and questions the stigmas that surround them. Leveraging principles of urban ecology and environmental aesthetics, we are encouraging an objective debate of the value of wild urban plants and thereby challenging contemporary cultural perceptions.

This four-color art book will raise awareness about the overlooked ecology of our cities and allow people to reconsider their preconceived notions about weeds through the lens of art. This project has the potential to catalyze a generation of emergent designers, artists, planners and thinkers to rethink our urban futures in the face of increased density and erratic climatic conditions.

248 pages • 978-1-941729-07-6 • 9 x 7 in • 29.95 USD/38.99 CDN • NATURE • Ecosystems & Habitats/General •  Environment • An Archer Book


About the Author

David Seiter is design director and founding principal of Future Green Studio, a dynamic landscape design-build firm based in Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY, where he oversees a staff of 25 creative, hardworking and talented individuals.  A long-time Brooklyn resident and urban explorer, David enjoys investigating the complex ecology of our cities in order to reveal the nuances of the urban landscape in subtle, poetic ways. With keen attention to sustainability, David is continually exploring how to integrate landscape into the built environment in innovative and environmentally responsible ways.

David's portfolio encompasses award-winning private and public-use projects – with recent high-profile commissions from institutions such as Metropolitan Museum of Art and Brooklyn Children's Museum, urban park and streetscape projects such as Journal Square Park in Jersey City, NJ and the Half Street Streetscape in Washington DC, and luxury roof gardens for celebrity clients.  His work has been featured in numerous publications including Landscape Architecture Magazine, Architectural Digest, Dwell, The New York Times, The Robb Report, The Wall Street Journal, Urban Omnibus and The Architect’s Newspaper.

David is author of the book SUP: Weeds in NYC – a book about the overlooked ecological value of weeds in the urban landscape. Additionally he founded the website spontaneousurbanplants.org which won a 2015 National Honor Award in Research from the American Society of Landscape Architects. David has lectured widely about emergent trends in landscape architecture, and has previously taught at the graduate program for Sustainable Planning & Development at Pratt Institute.

David is a licensed landscape architect and lives in South Slope, Brooklyn with his filmmaker wife and two children.