If you propose a high-rise public housing project in America, your opponents will almost certainly use Pruitt-Igoe as a rhetorical weapon against you – and defeat you with it. The Captain WO Pruitt Homes and William L Igoe Apartments, a racially segregated, middle-class complex of 33 11-storey towers, opened to great fanfare on the north side of St Louis between 1954 and 1956. But within a decade, it would become a decrepit warehouse exclusively inhabited by poor, black residents. Within two decades, it would undergo complete demolition. Whether you call Pruitt-Igoe’s short, troubled existence a failure of architecture, a failure of policy, or a failure of society, its fate remains bound up with, and reflective of, the fate of many American cities in the mid-20th century. Even before the dust settled from the infamous, widely televised 1972 implosion of one of Pruitt-Igoe’s buildings (the last of which wouldn’t fall until 1976), the argument that the design had doomed it gained serious traction. Architectural historian Charles Jencks cites that much-seen dynamiting as the moment “modern architecture died”. Other detractors used the occasion to hold up its architect, Minoru Yamasaki, for condemnation as a figurehead of all the supercilious, social-engineering modernists too… Read full this story
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Pruitt-Igoe: the troubled high-rise that came to define urban America – a history of cities in 50 buildings, day 21 have 320 words, post on www.theguardian.com at April 22, 2015. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.