7 January 2011


Picture of the future? Picture of the past?

Pruitt-Igoe was a post-WW2 urban housing project located in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. It was designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki (of World Trade Center fame) and completed in 1955.

There are varying arguments as to why it occurred - from architectural failure to social and political tensions in St. Louis - but within a year the buildings were largely vacant and living conditions had rapidly decayed. Pruitt-Igoe became somewhat of a ghetto of poverty, crime and segregation.

In 1972 the federal government decided to begin demolishing the development, a process which would last four years.

One could compare Yamasaki's Pruitt-Igoe project to Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation in Marseille, France, which was completed a few years earlier in 1952.

Wikipedia says: "according to the planning principles of Le Corbusier and the International Congress of Modern Architects, [Pruitt-Igoe] residents were raised up to 11 floors above ground in an attempt to save the grounds and ground floor space for communal activity".

Unfortunately, and we still see this today, it seems the very opposite occurred. These high-rise unit-based buildings promoted isolation and tension much more than the supposed unification and community their architects aspired to.

I wonder what real community looks like in 2011?


Post a comment

<< Home

Newer posts Older posts