Learning from Pruitt Igoe

Modern Architecture Vuneral?

The devil in the details

At heart, Pruitt-Igoe was an optimistic idea—perhaps too optimistic. Planned to accommodate the growth of an industrial powerhouse city already a shade past its prime, the project was a Modernist dream come true: an effort to replace St. Louis’ slums with new, clean affordable housing rising into the sky. It was profoundly influenced by Le Corbusier’s “radiant city vision of Modernism, with landscaped parks surrounded by towers of glass and concrete lifting working people out of dark, near-shantytowns isolated from running water, electricity, and civilized urban infrastructure.

The first building was demolished on March 16, 1972 shortly after 3:00 PM. The demolition of the entire complex was completed in 1976. Today, much of the site still stands vacant, except for the school, Gateway Institute of Technology, located on Jefferson Avenue near Cass Avenue, at the western end of the Pruitt-Igoe tract.

The failure of Pruitt-Igoe represents to many the failure of modernist thinking and high-tech solutions to social problems (rational planning built on objectivist models of human behavior).

Visit The Pruitt-Igoe Myth website.

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