Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Designed in 1951 by architect Minoru Yamasaki (who would later design the World Trade Center), it consisted of 33 11-story apartment buildings on a 57 acre (230,000 m²) site, totaling 2,870 apartments, and was completed five years later. The project was commissioned as part of the post-WWII federal housing program, as an attempt to bring people back to the city, but within a few years it quickly fell into disrepair and disuse, heavily vandalized by its own residents.
Many of the architectural design elements of Pruitt-Igoe, such as its galleries and "skip-stop" elevators (which stopped only at certain floors in an attempt to lessen congestion), turned out to be at best inconveniences and at worst breeding grounds for crime. The buildings remained largely vacant for years, and after several failed attempts to rehabilitate the area the St. Louis Housing Authority began demolition of the complex on March 16, 1972.
Critics have cited the failure of Pruitt-Igoe as an example of how planned urban communities often fail. The complex had been designed as an attempt to emulate the public housing projects in New York City, but with little regard for the vast difference in economies and population distributions in the two cities.
Books and articles
- Sociological study of Pruitt-Igoe: Lee Rainwater , Behind Ghetto Walls: Black Families in a Federal Slum (Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co., 1970).
- Elizabeth Birmingham , "Reframing the Ruins: Pruitt-Igoe, Structural Racism, and African American Rhetoric as a Space for Cultural Critique," Positionen 2.2 (1998).
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