context • 1
cover photo: Pruitt-Igoe during 1972 demolition (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
acknowledgements: This project would never have happened without the invaluable research of Michael Allen, Elizabeth Birmingham, Katherine Bristol, and others who have tirelessly worked to decipher the true story of Pruitt-Igoe. Without their work, Pruitt-Igoe might have continued to be known as an icon of failure and remain an irreparable scar on the face of St. Louis. I would like to thank the following people who have made the completion of this project possible: My advisor, Wendy Jacobson, for her encouragement, guidance, and patience. Brian Katen for his inspiration and encouragement. Mintai Kim, Terry Clements, Dean Bork, Patrick Miller, C.L. Bohannon, and Dave McGill for their help and inspiration over the years. Thank you to my family (especially Elinor, Dad, and Grandma Evelyn) for all your support and patience. Also to my wonderful classmates and friends Laura Sokol, Luisa Cruz, Amy Strickland, Laurel Heile, Christine Ly, Brad Davis, and Dustin Smith for your invaluable advice and encouragement. Also to Jon Runge, Ben Turpin, and Paul Toler for distractions and just plain awesomeness.
table of contents beginnings preface introduction
history city district site
city district site
vision what is city.forest? objectives + strategies hybrid programming embracing wilderness
concept 39 40 43 46
design masterplan design principles experiencing an urban forest district concept
48 49 52 57
conclusion pruitt-igoeâ€™s legacy list of references
I love St. Louis. I love its culture, its people, its location, its history. I wanted to do a project in St. Louis so I could attempt to gain a better understanding of the city’s issues and how they could be remedied. What better site than Pruitt-Igoe, which, in the years since its dramatic demise, has become an international icon of failure? Forgotten by the city whose salvation it promised, Pruitt-Igoe has been allowed to fade into myth, casting an immense shadow on the city and on the neighborhood. I believe that a real understanding of Pruitt-Igoe – its history, its effects, its real legacy – is invaluable to the future of St. Louis. If the city is ever to move forward, it must first confront its past. How do you create a St. Louis solution to a St. Louis problem? –––– “St. Louis’ best chance for a bright future depends on forging creative connections with the past.” (Hidden Assets).
photo: Pruitt-Igoe during demolition (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth) preface • 1
introduction: urban renewal + the city of the future
Pruitt-Igoe was a multi-block urban renewal project
fice parks and new housing (see Figure XX) – a superfi-
completed in north St. Louis n 1956 that was subse-
cial solution that does nothing to combat the realities
quently spectacularly demolished (see Figure XX) due
of isolation, negative perception, and the brokenness
to rampant crime, falling occupancy rates, and decay.
of the neighborhood.
With its demise it gained international notoriety and
Is there another way? One that breaks the St. Louis
permanently damaged the image of St. Louis.
tradition of the ‘edifice complex’ (believing new build-
Pruitt-Igoe was supposed to be a catalyst for St. Louis
ing developments can fix the brokenness of the still-
– attacking the heart of the slums and bringing people
back to the city after white flight. Instead it had the op-
Michael Hough wrote in Cities and Natural Process that
posite effect – starting a mass exodus from the city and
the ignored urban spaces contribute just as much to
becoming far worse than the slums it replaced. The
the city’s civic image as the formalized landscapes (in
failure of Pruitt-Igoe forever burdened St. Louis with
St. Louis’ case, the Arch, for example). And when these
the image of danger and vacancy. While the project
wild, derelict spaces are actually closer to the common
has grown internationally notorious, the city has tried to
perception of the city of St. Louis, why not embrace
forget it – every solution has proposed wiping the site
these spaces that contribute to the city’s current char-
clean. But its notoriety has had a beneficial outcome
acter – repurposing what others view as debris/ugly to
– redeveloping the site would mean dealing with its
add value to the city and neighborhood?
issues and instead the site has been allowed to regenerate into a rich urban forest unlike anything else in the city. A new project, Northside Regeneration, proposes wiping the site clean and replacing the forest with of2 • introduction
“Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change –this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of fear, clearer vision, fresh hope,and out of hope, progress.” – Bruce Barton (former US Congressman, NY) (Hidden Measures, p. xi)
How can a project that was meant to be a harbinger of the future fulfill this role forty years after its death? What is true urban renewal?
Figure 01: concept drawing for the future of downtown St. Louis, circa 1965. Notice the image of a PruittIgoe–like project in the top right corner. . (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
city + site
Pruitt-Igoe Interstate 64
Early settlers of the Midwest were attracted by its rich Missouri is a transition state: from east to west it prairie soil and flat topography, although later most makes the end of the eastern decidous forest and the beginning of the prairie, and from north to south of the cities became centers for industry. Many of the major cities grew up along rivers or other waterways it marks the limits of early glacial movements. Misand became shipping and manufacturing hubs. souri’s diverse microclimates allow for both industrial agriculture and wineries. Much of the state is rural, the only main cities – St. Louis, Jefferson City/Colombia, and Kansas City – are all located along Interstate 64, which bisects the state.
city of st. louis
[metro st. louis] St. Louis is situated at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Although the metropolitan area is comprised of 15 counties across Missouri and Illinois, the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County – the two largest segments of the city – are both located in Missouri. The City of St. Louis is bisected by Interstate 64, dividing the city perceptually into north city and south city.
context • 3
st. louis: boomtown
Figure 02 St. Louis and westward expansion.
Figure 03 St. Louis and major trade routes.
(Image credit: “Framing a Modern Mess”)
(Image credit: “Framing a Modern Mess”)
Initially settled as a French fur-trading port, St. Louis is situated at the confluence of the Missouri and Missippi Rivers. Because of its location, St. Louis quickly became a major trading city and a starting point for pioneers moving west (see Figure XX). By 1836, it was one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. (with a 373% population boom from 1840–50). About the same time, the first riverside railroads appeared in St. Louis, and by 1841, St. Louis had the second highest river traffic in the country (next to New Orleans) and was becoming a major metropolis: “In little more than half a century, St. Louis has passed from a border trading post, scarcely yet Americanized, to a metropolis which is already contending for a foremost rank among American cities.” – Wayman Crow, 1875
St. Louis Chamber of Commerce (St. Louis: Its Neighborhoods and Neighbors, p. 12)
4 • history
In 1876, the City of St. Louis split from St. Louis County to become its own county so that it could establish better home rule. (These boundaries, which still exist today, were established to give St. Louis ample room to grow, although they prompted some of the densification measures of urban renewal seventy years later.) In 1880, St. Louis was the 4th largest city in the country (after New York, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn) with a population of 350,522. In response, some of the prominent businessmen formed the Business Men’s League, Incorporated in 1895 to devote itself “to keep the city’s greatness constantly before the people of this and other countries” (St. Louis: Its Neighorhoods and Neighbors, p. 12). It was this group that was largely responsible for making St. Louis the site of the 1904 World’s Fair, for supporting Charles Lindbergh’s trans-atlantic flight, for bringing the City Beautiful movement to the city (and the establishment of parks,
indoor plumbing, and public baths), and for leading a state-wide good roads movement. By the early twentieth century, St. Louis had also become a major manufacturing center; over 150 new factories were built between 1920 and 1925 alone. By the mid-1920s, St. Louis had become a true transportation hub: 600 miles of railroad, 26 railroad lines, 4 trans-river bridges, and 19 miles of industrial river frontage. By the 1930s and 40s, however, the industry had started to decline and move out to the county, leaving the core of the city empty and derelict. Much of the housing around the industry deteriorated and this was partially responsible for the flight of middle class residents to the suburbs. Enter urban renewal and Pruitt-Igoe. Once the 4th largest city in the country, St. Louis is now the 58th (see Figure 04). What happened is a complicated story, but one that intimately involves Pruitt-Igoe.
the fall of a rustbelt metropolis
Syracuse Rochester Buffalo 1980 974,180 people
1970 951,671 people
1990 993,508 people
Cincinatti St. Louis
U.S. boundary river
2010 998,954 people
After a few decades of rapid population increase, the County’s growth has steadied as new populations move into new developments in other counties in the metropolitan area. (Increased sprawl as the metro area covers 21 counties in Illinois and Missouri)
1960 703,532 people
2000 1,016,300 people
The Promise of
sC oui t. L
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
“If we can clear away the slums and blighted areas of this city, and replace them with modern, cheerful living accommodations, people will stop moving out of the city into the [suburban] county, and many will start moving back.”
(Mayor Joseph M. Darst, 1949 campaign speech)
dS y an
ere ty w oun C ouis
g win gro
me r he sa ox. t r p p at a
it is C
“a great step forward, the kind of progress that would revitalize St. Louis”
1960 750,026 people
1970 622,236 people
St. Louis City: 856,796 St. Louis County: 406,349
S te, ara p e s
-between 28% 1970 & 1980 alone!
1980 453,085 people
* decade marked the beginning of white flight
1990 396,685 people
The Result of
Today the City’s population is less than it was at the end of the Civil War 2000 348,189 people
“the modern movement’s most grandiloquent failure”
2010 319,294 people
(Architect’s Journal, 1972)
What is the rustbelt? Also called the Manufacturing Belt or the Factory Belt, the rustbelt describes the area straddling the Midwest and Northeast whose economy was historically based on manufacturing, specifically metals and automobiles. Due to changing economic conditions in the mid-20th century, much of the industry left the area and many of the urban areas now suffer from population loss, depletion of local tax revenues, and chronic unemployment.
Figure 04 Charting St. Louis’ population decline over the 20th century and how Pruitt-Igoe fits into it.
history • 5
attacking the slums
Cochran Gardens (Demolished 2008)
Clinton-Peabody (still exists)
Obsolete areas Blighted areas
Figure 05 St. Louis’ urban renewal public housing program based on the 1947 Housing Assessment, which highlighted the problem areas within the city which should be addressed by urban renewal.
“Slums are the cancers of our cities.” – Minoru Yamasaki, architect of Pruitt-Igoe
Although the political boundaries set up in 1876 seemed to adequately allow for future growth at the time, they proved to be restrictive later. When the city faced massive population influxes at the turn of the century, it was forced to consolidate its cemeteries in order to build more housing. When in the 1930s, the population was predicted to reach 950,000 by 1970, the city took action
6 • history
again: tearing down the older low-income neighborhoods and consolidating them into high-rise apartment buildings like Pruitt-Igoe. When they assessed the city’s housing stock, a high percentage of it was deemed obsolete (to be torn down) or blighted (to get superficial improvements) (see Figure 05). Although not shown on the map as blighted, large areas of downtown and the riverfront were torn down, including industrial buildings and ethnic enclaves. The downtown mall, the site of Busch Stadium, and the eventual site of the National Jefferson Expansion Memorial were cleared during this process. As the city began to lose population in the 1950s when people began flocking to the suburbs, planners thought that attacking the worst areas of the city would be enough to stem the emigration. Planners saw the problems of the slums to be superficial, which could easily be fixed through beautification efforts. Part of the 1947 Housing Assessment report reads “Neighborhoods that have become a liability to the city can become an asset only through reconstruction along sound planning principles” (1947 Comprehensive City Plan of St. Louis, p. 15). The Desoto-Carr neighborhood was judged to be one of the most dangerous areas of the city and it received the largest housing project, Pruitt-Igoe. When they began clearing the neighborhood, it was expected that other urban renewal projects would be added later, creating a corridor of new, clean residences that befitted the modern city. As it turned out, although some of the area was cleared, new buildings never arrived, leaving Pruitt-Igoe isolated among slums and some vacant land.
Figure 06 Image from 1947 Housing Assessment showing potential ideas for the Desoto-Carr neighborhood. Future Pruitt-Igoe site outlined. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth).
a modern dream far left:
Cover from Architectural Forum (1951) article, lauding St. Louis’ efforts to clean up the city. The area marked as ‘A’ would become Pruitt-Igoe. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth) clockwise from top center: Figure 08
Pruitt-Igoe dominated the skyline before the Arch was completed in 1965. Note how Pruitt-Igoe is like an island among a sea of slums. (courtesy of Michael Allen) Figure 09
Aerial photo of downtown St. Louis circa 1965. Pruitt-Igoe is easily visible in the background. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth) Figure 10
Part of Architectural Forum (1951) article, commending the architects’ design to create community. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
history • 7
the pruitt-igoe myth
Originally lauded in Architectural Forum and Archi-
“Modern architecture died in St. Louis, Missouri on July
But, as some historians have pointed out, the story of
tectural Record for its modern innovative design, less
15, 1972...when the infamous Pruitt-Igoe scheme...
Pruitt-Igoe – why it was built and why it failed – is much
than 20 years later Pruitt-Igoe was a “menace” and a
[was] given the final coup de grâce by dynamite”
more complicated than the prevailing myth implies.
“failure” (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth). Its negative perception
(Pruitt Igoe Now, p. 3).
was secured when Charles Jencks, the architectural
Since then its notoriety has only grown, making it an
theorist, blamed the project for the death of modernism
international icon of failure, the quintessential example
of architecture gone wrong.
8 • history
photo: Pruitt-Igoe during 1972 demolition (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
timeline: charting catastrophe
died...when the infamous Pruitt-Igoe scheme... [was] given the final coup de grâce by dynamite.
– Charles Jencks
(Pruitt Igoe Now, p. 3)
om* o *b
60% 1939: St. Louis City Planning Commission creates a map of the obsolete and blighted areas of St. Louis
29% 1950: St. Louis Housing Authority commissioned the firm of Leinweber, Yamasaki, & Hellmuth to design the project
1950 1949: U.S. Housing Act of 1949 is passed 1954: Brown vs. Board of Education passed in Supreme Court. Plans for Pruitt-Igoe were hurriedly desegregated
1960 1958: After two years of good conditions, the project begins to deteriorate and occupancy begins to drop.
July 15, 1972
1969: Inhabitants go on a rent strike after the Housing Authority refuses to fix things. 1965: First of federal grants to physically rejuvenate the project and establish social programs
1973: Federal Department of Housing & Urban Development decided PruittIgoe was unsaveable and decide to demolish the rest of the project
actual life of Pruitt-Igoe Figure 11 Overlaying the public perception of Pruitt-Igoe with its occupancy rate and other major events.
history • 9
product of an era
The main flaw of Pruitt-Igoe, at least to architects, was
first hired to design Pruitt-Igoe, they were constrained
maximum allowable cost per unit. A field officer of the
its design. Why did a project that was first proposed as
by the size and location of the site, the number of
federal Public Housing Administration (PHA) insisted
a mixture of lower structures become a forest of mono-
units, and the project density (all of which had been
on a scheme using 33 identical eleven-story elevator
lithic 11-story slabs? The answer is a combination
predetermined by the St. Louis Housing Authority).
buildings. Figure 12 breaks down the major architec-
of cultural and architectural trends and government
Their first design proposal called for a mixture of high-
tural and cultural influences of the project. (Bristol, p.
rise, mid-rise, and walk-up structures, which, although
352-356; von Hoffman, p. 180-185).
When the firm of Leinweber, Yamasaki & Hellmuth was
approved by local authorities, exceeded the federal
Height inspired by New York City skyscrapers and Robert Moses’ Stuyvesant Towers. High-rise design was also championed as a way to preserve open space.
Strategy was not an attempt to restrict poor blacks to inner city neighborhoods; instead of building “warehouses for the poor,” it was intended to be “a great step forward, the kind of progress that would revitalize St. Louis.” (von Hoffman p. 181) Skip-stop elevators connecting to windowed galleries meant to promote a sense of community (also a cost-saving measure).
High density from high cost of land (including slum clearance), expected influx of migrant populations, and federal costcutting measures.
per acre 55 dwellings
Superblock from Modernist movement
Lack of landscape a result of local contractors’ price-gouging. Location in the middle of the city because wanted to attack the heart of the slum problem (hoped that getting rid of the worst neighborhoods would help draw people back to the city).
10 • history
The major architectural and cultural influences of Pruitt-Igoe.
a ‘problem’ neighborhood Through the 1910s, the Desoto-Carr neighborhood was a diverse middleand working-class neighborhood with a mix of commercial, residential, and industrial uses (see Figures 13 + 14). As more immigrants began to move to the area, however, the middle class population left and the neighborhood began to deteriorate. By the late 1920s, the area had become a slum: rampant crime, deteriorating homes (see Figure 17), overcrowded conditions (see Figures 15 + 16), and junk yards (see Figure 18). These condi-
19th century diversity
tions and its proximity to downtown made it a target for urban renewal.
1875 map of the Desoto-Carr neighborhood as it was being built up. The future Pruitt-Igoe site is marked with yellow; industry with maroon; forest remnants with green; ponds and depressions with blue. (“Framing a Modern Mess”)
Detail area of the neighborhood in 1875. The future Pruitt-Igoe site is marked in yellow. (Missouri History Museum)
20th century blight
Children playing in one of the slum alleys circa 1940. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
Children playing in one of the slum alleys circa 1940. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
Deteriorating homes in the Desoto-Carr area circa 1945. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
One of the many junk yards that were prevalent in the neighborhood circa 1945. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
history • 11
above: Figure 19
The landscape around the buildings. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth) left: Figure 20
Aerial map of Pruitt-Igoe, circa 1965. Vaughn Apartments are in the lower right corner. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
Even though the architects were limited by FHA and St. Louis Housing Authority standards, they did try to make the project as livable as possible. Charles Jencks wrote: “Pruitt-Igoe was constructed according to the most progressive ideas of CIAM [Congrés Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne, or the International Congress of Modern Architecture]...It consisted of elegant slab blocks fourteen storeys high, with rational ‘streets in the air’ (which were safe from cars, but, as it turned out, not
12 • history
safe from crime); ‘sun, space, and greenery,’ which Le Corbusier called the ‘three essential joys of urbanism’ (instead of conventional streets, gardens, and semiprivate space, which he banished). It had separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic the provision of play space, and local amenities such as laundries, créches, and gossip centers – all rational substitutes for traditional patterns.” (Bristol, p. 12) Despite their best efforts, the project began to crumble within a few years of its construction, prompting plan-
ners and architects to question the guiding principles of Modernism (which is part of the reason why PruittIgoe is considered to be the death of modern architecture). They concluded, like Jencks, that even though the project was designed with the intention of instilling good behavior in the tenants, “it was incapable of accommodating their social needs” (Bristol, p. 12)
mapping the site Figure 21
Map of the Pruitt-Igoe project. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth) history â€˘ 13
Crowd at Pruitt-Igoe’s opening ceremonies, 1956. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
Early residents in their new home. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
Joyce Ladner and her child. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
1956: “the best place I ever lived” Hopes were high when Pruitt-Igoe first opened: the project was lauded as a great step forward for St. Louis, a massive improvement over the slums. For most residents, although the furnishings and construction were the cheapest possible, the apartments were the best they’d ever lived in, or would live in again (The PruittIgoe Myth). Despite the myth that the residents immediately trashed the project, many were excited about the prospect of being the first tenants of the project, and took care of their new homes (Bristol p. 355-57).
14 • history
Residents in front of their old home in the slums, ready to move into Pruitt-Igoe. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
One of few intact families in Pruitt-Igoe; many fathers were prohibited for living in the project. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
Broken windows covered in icicles, circa 1968. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
Broken windows, circa 1968. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
Walking through the rubble, circa 1973. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
1968: ‘case history of a failure’ So read the headline of an Architectural Forum article from 1968 (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth), seventeen years after the same magazine had praised the project as precent-breaking, a shining example of Modernism at work (see Figure 07). By the mid-1960s, the infrastructure and social structure of PruittIgoe were crumbling, and the project was becoming a haven for crime. In less than 15 years, “the words ‘Pruitt-Igoe’ have become a household term...for the worst in ghetto livFigure 30
Example of vandalism common in the buildings. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
Policeman patrolling corridors at night, circa 1965. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth)
ing” (“The Lessons of Pruitt-Igoe” p. 116).
history • 15
th N 19
N . 21
James Cool Papa Bell
N. 22 nd
1895 map of block density of the Desoto-Carr neighborhood, focused on the future site of Pruitt-Igoe. (compiled from Whipple Maps, courtesy of the Missouri History Museum)
2010 map of the area’s block density today. Note the superblock of PruittIgoe that replaced the original street grid, how few historic buildings still remain, and the new development patterns of infill residential developments.
historic existing building
e site N 20
Pruit brick building
changing urban fabric Intended to stabilize the neighborhood and bring the
– and directly caused the deterioration of the neighbor-
grassed lots in their place. Today, some of the lots are
middle classes back from the suburbs, Pruitt-Igoe had
hood. Migrant populations, expected to fill the vacated
being rebuilt as suburban-style apartment complexes,
the opposite effect: it cast a shadow on St. Louis –
homes around Pruitt-Igoe, moved instead to the coun-
but the neighborhood is still characterized by swathes
contributing to the perception that the city was danger-
ty, and over time, the homes began to crumble and
of vacant land and a perception of danger – a place to
ous and decaying, a perception that exists to this day
were enventually demolished by the city, leaving empty
avoid for most citizens.
16 • history
covering an urban scar Over the years, the city has proposed various schemes for the site, none of which have been successful. Ideas included a penitentiary, golf course, and the two most recent ideas: Gateway Village and Northside Regeneration. top row:
Figures 34 + 35.
Proposed in the mid-1990s, Gateway Village was an ambitious project that proposed reestablishing high-end residential along St. Louis Place Park, adding middle-class neighborhoods along the edge, and creating two main park-like subdivisions in the vacant areas. (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth) bottom row: Figures 36, 37, + 38.
Northside Regeneration plans to demolish much of almost two square miles of north city, replacing it with four office parks (far right) and new detached singlefamily homes and mixed-use developments. (Northside Regeneration, LLC)
history â€˘ 17
the city today “The Gateway City is, by any measure, one of the most depopulated, deindustrialized, and deeply segregated examples of American urban decay. ‘Not a typical city,’ as one observer noted in the late 1970s, ‘but...it shows a – Colin Gordon general condition in a stark and dramatic form.” (Mapping Decline, p. xi)
Once a thriving metropolis, St. Louis has fallen far: its
scribed by development or enter-
average: a few trees and grass playing fields. The few
population continues to fall every year, it is consistently
prise zone programs today” (Map-
notable exceptions are Forest Park, Tower Grove Park,
on the FBI’s most dangerous cities list, and, for the
ping Decline, p. 158).
the Arch, and City Garden (see Figure 40). Of these,
most part, the city’s efforts of revitalization have fallen
The city’s future is not completely bleak, however;
only Forest Park and City Garden feature a 21st centu-
flat. As Colin Gordon notes,
several grassroots organizations and other groups have
ry design (although the Arch grounds are currently be-
“Billions of dollars in 1960s slum clear-
started making a difference in their community. Slowly
ing redesigned). How can the Pruitt-Igoe site become a
ance, urban renewal, and the model
but surely, progress is being made all over the city.
21st century park? (See page 43 for more information).
cities program have ‘had little funda-
Can one site become a catalyst for the entire city? I be-
What implications will that have for the rest of the city?
mental effect on the basic economy
lieve that because of Pruitt-Igoe’s history in relation to
of the city.’... Assessments of urban
the rest of the city, its geographic location, its cultural
decay in St. Louis have changed
significance, and the unique ecological opportunities
little in the last century: the scope of
on the site, it can be just such a catalyst.
blight plans of 1979 or 1963 or 1947
How can the ecology of the site be harnessed? At a
is essentially the same as that circum-
city scale, many St. Louis’ neighborhood parks are
2010 city stats:
18th largest U.S. metro area
( 18 • analysis
in median household income
in poverty rate
(among top 50 metro areas) (source: Hidden Assets)
empty city: vacancy patterns
shades of green: city parks Calgary Cemetery
Tower Grove Park
River Des Peres Greenway Carondelet Park
Vacant lots within the city limits (2011 data). The city is bisected by Interstate 64, dividing it into north city and south city. North city, especially above Delmar Blvd (the Mason-Dixon line of the city), is much emptier than south city.
The relative ecological diversity within St. Louis’ parks. Only a few of the city’s parks (Forest Park, the Arch, City Garden, and Tower Grove Park) have received any recent attention. The rest, especially in north city, are neglected. analysis • 19
st. louis life: cultural attractions + vibrant neighborhoods To most residents of the St. Louis metropolitan area, there isn’t much of value in the city of St. Louis: a few parks (Forest Park, Tower Grove Park, and possibly the Arch), a few neighborhoods (Central West End is the most popular), and a few museums and attractions. The rest is seen as dangerous: north city is where the “ghettos” and vacant blocks are, while south city is denser but badly deteriorating. (St. Louis is divided perceptually into north city and south city by Interstate 64.) Although Pruitt-Igoe is located in north city, geographically close to both Grand Center and downtown, perceptually it t End
St. Louis University
washingto university n
seems very distant.
44 Botanical Gardens
Tow e Park r Grove
Highlighting the main attractions in St. Louis – or all that most residents find important.
20 • analysis
district: downtown + desoto-carr Figure 42
Context map of downtown and Desoto-Carr. (Image courtesy of Google Maps).
Desoto-Carr & St. Louis Place neighborhoods
analysis â€˘ 21
(+40% from 2000) median home value:
(+43% from 2000) population (2010):
2% hispanic 3% white 5% asian 91% black
(-15% from 2000)
population (2010): population (2010):
(+40% from 2000)
(-68% from 2000)
median home value:
no. of vacant units: no. of vacant units: (-57% from 2000)
education level: high school:
education level: high school:
(-11% from 2000) median income:
2% white 2% asian
(+4% from 2000)
99% black population (2010): median income: (+4% from 2000)
93% black 7% asian population (2010):
(+246% from 2000)
left: Figure 43
(+55% from 2000)
(-10% from 2000)
61% white median income:
(-9% from 2000) 55% white
69% white 22% black 35% black
district life: demographic data
Demographic data by census tract (US Census data 2010) above: Figure 44
Detailed demographic data of area immediately adjacent to Pruitt-Igoe site. (US Census data 2010).
St. Louis is a highly segregated city â€“ racially and
north. The area around the Pruitt-Igoe site (marked
economically. This divide can be clearly seen in
in gray) is the poorest in the area, with residents
this district â€“ the downtown is primarily white with
earning just under $9000 annually.
overall higher income levels than the areas to the
22 â€˘ analysis
(-56% from 2000)
education level: high school:
(-32% from 2000)
median home value:
(-5% from 2000)
education level: high school:
(+37.9% from 2000)
(+121% from 2000)
no. of vacant units:
(-46.2% from 2000)
median home value:
(-5% from 2000)
(+64% from 2000)
(-12.6% from 2000)
(+43% from 2000) median income:
no. of vacant units:
Blv d. Gra nd
St. Lo ui
s Ave .
e7 tat ers Int
lo N. F
. Ave ant
20th S t.
Cass A ve.
rsta te 6 4
r Blvd .
district life: circulation and buildings
Breaking down the hierarchy of major roads in the area.
Looking at building density in the area, and marking potential population hubs.
During the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries, the
thins out considerably and many of the arterial roads
Boulevard, which are major north-south thoroughfares
district was a busy industrial area, and its streets and
are simply too big (see Figure 45).
(see Figure 45).
buildings reflected this. Although much of the area
The site is located at the intersection of Jefferson and
Although many of the buildings north of Delmar have
was destroyed by urban renewal, its streets still reflect
Cass Avenues, two of the major arterial roads in the
been demolished, there are still a surprising number
its busy past. Many of the streets downtown still re-
neighborhood. Access to the site from the core of
of schools and churches (see Figure 46), which are
ceive heavy traffic, but north of Delmar Blvd, the traffic
downtown is possible via N. 14th Street and Tucker
potential populations to be tapped for the project.
analysis â€˘ 23
rk e Pa Plac St. L ouis
View down one of the empty streets in Desoto-Carr.
New housing next to a neighborhood park.
.1 .05 .05 00
.1.1 miles miles
Comparing the use of unbuilt land, especially north of Delmar Blvd.
Many of the lots are not well-maintained, and spontaneous vegetation begins to take over any ruins.
district land: land use + character Although when looking at the area north of Delmar,
tribute to the overall negative perception of the area.
Louis Place Park and the downtown mall (see Figure
there seem to be a lot of parks, the parks are often
Although there is a lot of new housing in the area, it
47) provide a potential opportunity for expansion.
very similar to the vacant lots nearby (see Figures 47
is mostly insular and does little to connect to the sur-
and 48). The high concentration of vacant lots con-
rounding neighborhood. The linear forms of both St.
24 â€˘ analysis
site: pruitt-igoe today
Panorama of prairie in site interior
Although the largest rubble was cleared away from the
a complex for Gateway Charter School. Around the
diverse urban forest (see Figure 40) unlike anything
site after final demolition in 1976, a layer of rubble still
same time, the city began using the remainder of the
else in the city. The new growth has also had a nega-
remained, as well as sidewalks, some trees, founda-
site as a dump for rubble from the construction of the
tive impact: the site is frequently used for local dump-
tions, and some roads. The site was then fenced off,
Americaâ€™s Convention Center and Kiel Center (now
ing, possibly because it looks like no one cares for the
except for access to the electrical substation, which
Scottrade Center) downtown. The addition of the
is still in use today. Over the next twenty years, the
rubble made it impossible to mow the site, and the
site was slowly vegetated by grass and other ground-
St. Louis Land Clearance Authority (had taken over
cover plants, and was mown by the St. Louis Housing
ownership a few years earlier) allowed the site to grow
Authority, which maintained ownership.
In the early 1990s, twenty acres were developed as
Over the past twenty years, the site has grown into a analysis â€˘ 25
source: “Framing a Modern Mess”
sumac, tree of paradise
source: “Framing a Modern Mess”
cottonwood, siberian elm, catalpa, honey locust, hackberry, (honeysuckle)
source: “Framing a Modern Mess”
Section of the general vegetation succession of the site. above and right: Figure 53
Evolution of canopy cover on the site from the mid-1990s. The growth happens fairly rapidly, especially between 2005 and 2007.
growing an urban forest: spontaneous succession on site
source: “Framing a Modern Mess”
The vegetation on Pruitt-Igoe is unique; it has grown
Figure 52 breaks down the successional processes on
it change as it matures? The site offers an invaluable
without any outside assistance. Its success was de-
the site into stages, starting from pioneer species like
opportunity for studying urban forests, and should be
termined entirely by site conditions and, therefore, it is
grasses and goldenrod and ending in what we as-
preserved if possible to help serve the public.
truly indicative of the underlying conditions of the site.
sume are the climax species. But the forest has only
It shows the past use, and indeed abuse, of the site.
been growing for 15 years (see Figure 53); how might
26 • analysis
legumes (clover, lespedeza, etc)
tree of paradise
p r a iri e
honey locust blackberry catalpa
eastern red cedar
From top to bottom: Sumacs in the prairie. A mixture of grasses growing through rubble. Honeysuckles amidst rubble.
Breakdown of vegetation types and species.
site vegetation The vegetation on the site is very diverse, ranging
large geographic area.
offer valuable educational experiences as well as a
from native species (oak, etc) to alien invasives (tree
The vegetation on the site can be divided into three
productive wildlife habitat.
of paradise, japanese honeysuckle, etc). Some of
groups (see Figure 54): canopy (trees), understory
the species may have come from neighboring prop-
(shrubs and small trees), and prairie (grasses,
erties, while some may have come from migrating
legumes, and perennials). Each of these spaces
wildlife, making the site a product of a potentially
offers a unique experience and, if preserved, could analysis â€˘ 27
soil conditions Overall, the soil quality on the site is very low. Forty
as the reason for not developing the site (although no
years of vegetation has created a shallow layer of
formal soil study has ever been done); however, any
top soil, but underneath that, the original Pruitt-Igoe
contaminants from Pruitt-Igoe would have been bro-
rubble is still there. The rubble (both the original and
ken down by weathering or leached down to the bed-
that from the mid-1990s from the construction of the
rock by now. The only possible contamination would
convention center and Savvis Center) has created a
be from recently deposited materials, which may need
very alkaline climate, making it suitable only for weed
to be removed.
Study of general soil conditions on site.
species. The city has cited lead and asbestos contamination
compac ted soil
nd the city ou
alkaleachin l g al ine
le + debris dumped
cted a p com
low nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium
[rubble] b rub
le + debris dumped
nd the city ou
28 â€˘ analysis
low nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium
Section 1: entrance to the substation
3 2 4 5
Section 2: rubble piles south of the substation
Section 3: road to the east of the substation
Section 5: eastern end of Dickson Street
Sections through the main paths of the site.
Section 4: western end of Dickson Street
experiencing the site Although most of the site is flat (approximately an
The mounds are as shallow as a foot tall (Sections
average 1.5% slope across the entire site), the rubble
1 and 4) which act as edges to the paths, or as high
mounds that have been dumped on the site for the
as six or seven feet (Sections 3 and 5), creating a
past 15 years add unexpected drama (see Figure 57).
analysis â€˘ 29
Photograph of Dickson Street today. Oak on the right is a remnant from Pruitt-Igoe.
Photograph of sidewalk along Dickson Street today.
new soil and plant debris recent rubble layer of new soil rubble from Pruitt-Igoe Figure 58
Conceptual section of the layers of rubble on the site, including one of the new rubble mounds.
traces of pruitt-igoe Although on the surface all traces of Pruitt-Igoe have
The history of the site is also evident in the vegetation
the next thirty years, a layer of new soil formed over
been completely removed from the site, one can still
that covers the site. A few trees from Pruitt-Igoe still
the Pruitt-Igoe rubble, only to be covered in the mid-
find evidence that it was there. First, there are a few
grow on the site (Figure 59). Additionally, the rubble
1990s by municipal rubble (see Figure 58).
physical traces: Dickson Street (Figures 59 and 60),
left from the demolition created very harsh conditions
the electrical substation (Figure 64), and the side-
(e.g: high soil pH, soil compaction, and rubble) that
walks along the edge of the site.
only a few plants can survive (see Figure 54). Over
30 â€˘ analysis
experiencing the site The vegetation and rubble on the site create a variety of experiences: an urban escape, a tunnel, a frame for the city.
Top center: The branches of honeysuckles create a low maze. Top right: The debris has created a small clearing in an otherwise dense grove of honeysuckles. Middle left: The combination of the understory honeysuckles and the trees create a unique vaulted tunnel feeling. Middle center: The branches of honeysuckles create a tunnel-like effect. Middle right: The vegetation along Dickson St. frames the view of the city. Bottom left: The prairie on the southern edge frames the view to the downtown. Bottom center: A recent pile of rubble is softened by vegetation.
analysis â€˘ 31
Panorama of Dickson Street today.
Transition between forest and prairie across from Gateway Middle School.
Electrical substation in the middle of the site (owned by Ameren UE).
an urban escape Immediately upon entering the site, you feel as if
is almost completely overgrown (see Figure 62). In
Igoe), which is still in use. It provides the greatest
youâ€™ve left the city behind. The dense vegetation,
other areas, like the prairies, almost all building rem-
contrast between forest and urban infrastructure (see
rubble piles, and pieces of old infrastructure combine
nants have been completely covered up (see Figure
to create a unique urban escape.
63). The only part of the site that is maintained is the
Dickson Street, the only street left from Pruitt-Igoe,
electrical substation (which is a remnant of Pruitt-
32 â€˘ analysis
25th S t.
Grace Baptist Church
23rd S t.
Rhema Baptist Assembly Church
St. Louis Fire Department
524 520 512
Church of the Living God504
Bell Ave. 532
516 528 528
St. Stanislaus Church
20th S 524
Gateway Middle School
N. 22n d
entrance 4 foot contour interval
remaining tree (Pruitt-Igoe)
NJROTC Academy oldest tree growth
tree of paradise, siberian elm, hackberry
honey locust, catalpa, honeysuckle
Site inventory of PruittIgoe site and immediate surroundings.
site inventory Although the dense vegetation makes it difficult
est growth (compiled from old satellite imagery, see
The only real topography on the site comes from the
to make a comprehensive inventory, it is possible
Figure 53), the location of the rubble, and the main
to map out the major components of the site: the
paths through the site. Overall, the site is fairly flat,
general vegetation communities, the areas of old-
with an overall slope of 1.5% towards the river (east). analysis â€˘ 33
vacant land and derelict buildings detract from neighborhood perception
many of the buildings fronting Jefferson and Cass are falling apart; no street life
industrial buildings divide the neighborhood and contribute to negative perception
new residential developments are insular, cut off from the streets and the neighborhood
site issues superblock (from Pruitt-Igoe) creates a disconnect between site and neighborhood
messy edge (fence and weedy plants) creates perception of danger, wildness
site bounded by chain-link fence, cut off from neighborhood
truck access road is entrance for dumpers
electrical substation (owned by Ameren UE) divides the site
perception of crime – neighborhood is not a destination
rubble mounds around paths are from construction downtown – possible contamination spontaneous vegetation on site seems wild, dangerous
site has been used for local dumping steep grade changes create drainage issues
school parking lot creates strong site boundary – difficult to connect to surroundings, prevents traffic from penetrating the superblock
sharp boundary between Desoto Park and forest
Jefferson and Cass are too wide for the amount of traffic they carry
4 foot contour interval
34 • synthesis
retention basin makes site entry from school grounds difficult
22nd Street dead-ends into site
Murphy Park housing development is close to site, but is separated by open fields and Desoto Park
Compilation of site issues
proximity of vacant land – can create new green infrastructure
proximity to arterial roads (Jefferson and Cass) – connection to downtown, other districts
proximity to new homes
urban forest: a unique ecosystem of spontaneous vegetation
size: 33 acres – big enough to service the city, make an impact as a forest
variety of microclimates, experiences on site mounds create drama in an otherwise flat landscape
urban escape – seems disconnected from the city
rubble: pieces of history
site of Pruitt-Igoe: rich history, internationally known
views to downtown
Compilation of site opportunities 4 foot contour interval
proximity to schools – make site an educational amenity
variety of entrances – open to different parts of the neighborhood
connection to Desoto Park – extend programming? synthesis • 35
revitalization efforts in Old North St. Louis are bounded by industry, large streets
many of grand historic homes have fallen into disrepair or been torn down
vacant land contributes to negative perception of the area
once commercial centers, main streets are now mostly fronted by industry, vacant land, or derelict buildings
Delmar Blvd. is a strong perceptual barrier that many people are wary of crossing
park system is disconnected, many of the parks are in poor condition
ar Blv d.
much of the new housing is isolated, inward-focused, and not engaged with the neighborhood
Compilation of district issues
36 â€˘ synthesis
industrial district cuts site off from downtown, river
downtown life, economy completely separated from north city
some pockets of historic homes still exist (may need work, but character is still intact)
strong community-based revitalization efforts (residential and commercial) in Old North St. Louis
multiple schools within close proximity (elementary, middle, and high schools) corridor of vacant land could connect Pruitt-Igoe site and St. Louis Place Park
site close to several arterial streets – easy access to downtown, other districts vacant land could be a huge opportunity, for large- and smallscale interventions. could create a new green infrastructure to reorganize city
urban forest on site is one of the only such places in the city – can provide connection between downtown mall and St. Louis Place Park
new housing in close proximity to vacant land – could be used to provide amenities
the city has begun to work on enhancing its park system, specifically the Arch and City Garden
close proximity to the central business district, downtown
Washington Avenue (recent recipient of APA Great Streets Award) is very close to site – possible extension?
linear park systems (downtown mall and St. Louis Place Park) could be extended, connected
Compilation of district opportunities synthesis • 37
vision + catalyst
finding a purpose Given the site’s history, current context, and overgrown state, can it be catalytic again? If so, how? Can its current conditions be reimagined to be a catalyst for the neighborhood and for the city as a whole?
vision Reinstate the site as a focus of the community and a center for a green intervention in the neighborhood by embracing and repurposing the urban nature on the site.
38 • concept
chain reaction: why could the site be catalytic for the city? - size - 33 acres: large enough to serve city and neighborhood - location - proximity to downtown and Old North St. Louis - surrounded by arterials - surrounded by vacant land - filling a hole - ecologically: creating a new 21st century park centered around urban forest - physically: reconnecting the site to the fabric of the surrounding neighborhood - socially: providing a new center for the neighborhood that can be the focus for spreading revitalization - culturally: new perspective for vacant land – repurposing to add value - legacy of Pruitt-Igoe - site was instrumental in decline of the city, which has been too traumatized by its outcome to want to deal with it - international notoriety – an intervention on the site would automatically attract attention, positively or negatively (perhaps part of the reason why the site has never been developed)
what is city.forest?
Given the site’s context of vacant land, decaying hous-
Because the current condition of the site is so wild,
paths lead you through open meadow, tree canopies,
ing stock, and negative perception, how can the site’s
some kind of transition is needed from the neighbor-
and the dense understory. The rubble that used to
current conditions be reimagined to have a beneficial
hood to the main body of the forest: this is the city
cover the site has been transformed into a beautiful
social function? My solution is to link the site to its
character (see Figure XX). This area draws on the site’s
sculpture or a bench, showcasing the site’s contribu-
larger St. Louis context and transform it into a new
history and its current context, creating garden rooms
tion to the new St. Louis character.
kind of park that celebrates the urban forest as an
and community gardens in the footprints of the origi-
educational opportunity and ecological treasure.
nal homes to accommodate neighborhood activities. Within the forest, the experience is entirely different:
city forest is... the function of the site - combination of city.garden and forest park (St. Louis icons) (see Figure 50). - provides a different kind of park experience – a forest – within an urban context - is a different kind of forest, a distinctly urban forest with an ecological function
and the experience of the site - a transition from urban context to the forest (contrast between the two) (see Figure 51). - an urban escape - pull out different components of urban forest and highlight them (different expressions) - parts of site are forest within city, others are city within forest
- cultivating an appreciation of new urban aesthetic - part of new St. Louis character: embracing perception of neglect + dereliction by repurposing what others see as junk to create art - part of site character: embracing history as city’s hidden dump and city’s failure by bringing out its potential and bringing in other urban debris
- make city and forest places with same plant + material palettes
concept • 39
objectives + strategies
reconnect site to neighborhood break up superblock draw adjacent neighborhood activities onto site transition from urban fabric to forest remember history of the neighborhood
make site an educational destination
explore expressions of urban nature particular to this site
draw on proximity to local schools by providing classes, playgrounds establish nature center on site use educational trails and signage to help appreciate unique ecology
preserve as much of forest as possible make forest easier to understand by breaking it down to component parts cultivate an appreciation of new urban aesthetic by making elements both beautiful and useful
reveal and honor the memories, impact of Pruitt-Igoe
repurpose vacant land to transform it from liability to amenity, add value to community (part of new St. Louis character)
echo buildingsâ€™ iconic form in memorial, Igoe tower preserve Dickson Streetâ€™s current experience create exhibit in nature center that chronicles the story of Pruitt-Igoe and highlights its social dimensions
integrate into larger network of green infrastructure connect to larger city context: Forest Park, City Garden, City Museum
6 40 â€˘ concept
make site a catalyst for north city link with ring of revitalization at the district scale (economic, residential, and green infrastructure)
+ play opportunities (making sculpture interactive)
local treasure restore order of ecosystems
fulfilling a “centuryold dream”
layout based on property lines from Sanborn map
human-ecosystem design method (park for humans + wildlife)
catalyst of downtown development transformation of a barrier into an amenity (bridge to downtown)
draw together city, larger community Figure 70.
city.garden + forest park
combining local icons A name can make or break a project, and to
draws from two of St. Louis’ local icons: For-
public sculpture garden on the downtown mall.
replace a name like Pruitt-Igoe, a strong name
est Park, a 19th century park near the edge of
In addition to the name, what lessons can be
is needed; one that evokes familiarity and fits
the city (see Figure 40) that recently received
drawn from these two icons? (See Figure 70).
in with St. Louis. City Forest can be just that; it
a successful redesign, and City Garden, a new
concept • 41
confronting vacant land: strategies for reuse Rather than a liability, vacant land should be thought
spaces that are usually ignored. How can that be ap-
coming the center for a new corridor of green infra-
of as areas of opportunity to be counted among the
plied at a city scale? A renaissance in St. Louis means
structure that would begin to spread through the dis-
city’s assets. The presence of vacant land presents
rethinking vacant land, especially in north city, which is
trict (see Figure 65). The chart below illustrates some
“a unique opportunity to re-figure the city to meet the
fast becoming a vacant district (see Figure 26). Attack-
of the many options for the infrastructure; more than
needs of the 21st century.” (Terra Incognita p. 164).
ing the Pruitt-Igoe site without connecting it back to
simply agriculture or parks, the corridor could begin to
With so much vacant land in the district, what is the
the neighborhood would create another Pruitt-Igoe: an
function economically, ecologically, socially and cultur-
best possible way to use it given the context? How
island within a broken neighborhood.
can other cities’ examples be applied to St. Louis?
My concept for the site includes connecting it to the
Part of the project is embracing those wild urban
neighborhood physically and programmatically, be-
Purpose, driving force
Benefit, Function corporation, city government
42 • concept
Examples development, urban agriculture (biofuel crops), large-scale urban farming, deconstruction (waste salvage), greenways/trails (alternative transportation), tourist attractions (parks, museums, etc.), street edge improvement, housing and development
local communities, neighborhood associations
market gardens, greenways/trails (alternative transportation)
- environmental - ecological (flora and fauna) - regional - metropolitan - local
composting, watershed restoration (regional scale), stream daylighting, stormwater management (local), ecological corridors, ecosystem services (urban heat island effect attenuation, carbon sequestration, etc.)
- health: physical mental - recreation - community-building
community gardens/farming, parks and park networks, side yard expansion, greenways/trails, market garden
- preservation, reconstruction of historical elements - memorial - contribute to neighborhood’s & city’s character, identity
public art zones, museums and historic homes/sites, memorials
To be what Pruitt-Igoe was meant to be, the site needs to fill the originally envisioned role of Pruitt-Igoe as a focus of community and respond to the trends of a new century.
21st century park
- revealing site history
- community center
- urban nature
- green infrastructure system
- an urban escape
- sitting areas
- connection to the neighborhood
how can the site fill its original role?
perception of danger urban forest Pruitt-Igoe
1. Dealing with the issues on the site. rubble (+ pollution)
2. Reconnecting it with the neighborhood it was isolated from and whose decline it caused.
- educational program (experiential + traditional)
“St. Louis has been too traumatized by its urban renewal failures to want to face that scar. A new narrative would allow the site to be seen as either a natural or development asset whose future offers a chance for urban innovation.” – Michael Allen, Preservation Research Office
concept • 43
nature center space-frame structure
fore city st
Pruitt-Igoe memorial Figure 71.
Dividing site into city and forest
44 â€˘ concept
How can you take the name of the site and
a contrast to highlight the unique aspects of
together to honor the memories of the true
embed it in the landscape, so that it informs
the forest and create an experience that can be
legacy of Pruitt-Igoe: the people who lived there
the experience of the site? In my concept, the
shared with the whole city: the nature center
who created strong bonds of community despite
city along the edge is the transition from the
and space-frame structure provide a new per-
the horrible conditions.
urban fabric to the rich urban forest, and the two
spective for viewing the city and the Pruitt-Igoe
examples of city within the forest both provide
memorial provides a place for the city to come
Major spaces and circulation.
spatial concept The outer spaces within City Forest are directly
The main spaces on the site (the nature cen-
sculpture or gardens to highlight the contrast of
influenced by their surroundings: agriculture
ter and the Pruitt-Igoe memorial) are located
the urban escape.
based on the original building footprints along
in glades within the forest. The main vehicular
Cass Avenue; community orchards, picnic areas,
circulation on the site goes through both of
and playgrounds pull from the churches and
these spaces, connecting them directly to the
schools on the interior of the block.
surrounding streets. The other glades contain concept â€˘ 45
embracing wilderness blackberry
street tree or in tree nursery
honeysuckle honey locust mulberry
edible fruits aster
ornamental garden beds
Potential uses of some of the species found on the site.
utilizing found items An important part of promoting a new urban
purposes (see Figure 73).
species on the site that would be useful addi-
aesthetic is making people appreciate the
Several of the tree species on the site can be
tions to community gardens. Finally, some of the
components of the urban forest. Although the
used as street trees to help beautify the sur-
prairie species could become low-maintenance
vegetation on the site is dominated by weed
rounding neighborhoods. In addition to provid-
additions to ornamental garden beds. (For more
species, some of the species can have practical
ing food for wildlife, there are several edible
complete list, see Figure 74).
46 â€˘ concept
plants paving pieces
element mounds wood
sculptural elements in landscape
can be used in playground area
reused as paving (barney rubble)
fruit, color can be appreciated if singled out
reused as paving (barney rubble)
orchard area for community use; food for wildlife
exploring the tree canopy
form, color can be appreciated if singled out
community forest, tree nursery for street plantings throughout neighborhood
Giving rubble a purpose.
reusing and recycling: new st. louis character How can you create an appreciation of this new wild
I believe this concept would be accepted in St. Louis
the City Museum: an indoor and outdoor playground
urban aesthetic? By giving each of the components
because it has already been tested, though not at a
made of recycled trash (see Figures 87-90).
parts of this urban forest a dual-purpose: to be beauti-
landscape level. Fifteen years ago, a man named Bob
This project is almost wholly responsible for the rebirth
ful and useful.
Cassilly turned an abandoned garment factory into
of Washington Avenue downtown (see Figure 96).
Exterior play structure at the City Museum.
Exterior play structure at the City Museum.
Exterior play structure at the City Museum.
Interior staircase at the City Museum. concept â€˘ 47
community gardens are an extension of the future agriculture across the street in the vacant lots (see Figure 91). like the planting beds, the garden design is inspired by the areaâ€™s historic homes
picnic area and community orchard
widened sidewalks and the addition of street trees along Jefferson and Cass create a more pedestrian scale (see Figure 91).
pattern of planting beds and garden rooms inspired by building footprints of the homes that were here before Pruitt-Igoe
city.forest plaza is the main focus of the site, with the nature center on the north side of the street and the space frame structure on the south (see Figure 86).
one of two playgrounds on the site to give children from nearby schools and apartments a place to play.
memorial to Pruitt-Igoe (see Figure 95). 0
48 â€˘ design
reestablishing a street-grid
circulation hierarchy original fabric
current service road
community gardens (extension of agriculture)
community orchard playground
edible site plants picnic area
tree nursery + edible site plants
Figure 83 city domestic scale (open-ended activities)
city domestic scale (more structured neighborhood activities)
engaging the edge conditions
how it works City Forest combines urban elements (formal grid,
ger on the site, a formal grid inspired by the history
ments: those along Jefferson and Cass are more for-
agriculture, playgrounds, the original housing lay-
of the neighborhood maintains sight-lines through
mal and, with the exception of the urban agriculture,
out) with the more organic elements of the forest
the site (see Figure 80). Although local traffic is al-
serve as place-holders for possible future develop-
(meadows, glades, meandering paths, complex plant
lowed on the site to access the nature center and the
ment (see Figures 82 and 83).
palette) to create a hybrid of the two.
schools, the streets remain pedestrian-oriented (see
To help combat the perception of wildness and dan-
Figure 81). The edges of the site mark the urban ele-
design â€˘ 49
plaza design is a distinctly urban expression within a forest; paving design shows connection site to district (see Figure 85).
the nature center houses community rooms, an exhibit about Pruitt-Igoe, and exhibits about the unique ecology on the site
the space frame structure allows visitors to experience a different level of the forest and enjoy spectacular views of the neighborhood (see Figure 86).
The main public open space on the site. 50 â€˘ design
elevated walkways lead off the space-frame structure and wind their way through parts of the forest (see Figure 90).
outdoor classrooms and maze
Contrast between urban plaza and wild prairie.
Section through space-frame structure
city.forest plaza How do you create a city experience within a forest?
ure 86) provides a direct view to downtown, and the
tors to immerse themselves in the experience of the
The main public open space on the site is supposed
paving pattern across the plaza is based on the street
to provide a contrast, emphasizing the urban forest
grid: going from a prairie patch on the north side of
The nature center and its grounds house both educa-
around it. How do you create a city experience with
the street (the project site) to a series of low climbing
tional and community amenities: outdoor classrooms,
the same plant palette? A grid of trees mark the space
mounds on the south side of the street which rep-
an edible plants garden, rooms for neighborhood
as distinctly urban and creates a more formal feeling
resent the downtown mall. The paving is made from
groups, a variety of exhibits about the flora and fauna
for the entrance to the nature center and the open-
recycled granite curbs. Although it is a small detail,
of the site, and a permanent exhibit on the history of
the significance of the pattern may be visible to some
Pruitt-Igoe, highlighting the experiences of its resi-
The plaza is designed to reinforce the siteâ€™s place
people, especially in the winter when the trees in the
within downtown (see Figure 84). The open-frame
plaza are bare. An elevated walkway leads off an
structure (on the south side of the street â€“ see Fig-
upper level of the space-frame structure, allowing visidesign â€˘ 51
A teaching opportunity
component parts Because an urban forest is so complex, it can be
Forest Walk (see Figure 90) transports the visitor from
Gardens to teach classes about botany.
overwhelming if experienced all at once, especially
the understory into the tree canopy, providing a new
Finally, transforming the rubble mounds that were on
when its components are wild. I propose that transi-
perspective of the site and its connection to the city.
the site into a series of low, climbable mounds (see
tioning from urban fabric to the forest, and then high-
“Falling fruit” (see Figure 87) is a sculpture in the or-
Figure 89) makes them more acceptable and caps any
lighting different experiences along the journey (ex-
chard that displays tires found on the site in a whimsi-
potentially hazardous materials.
ploring tree canopies or marvelling at sculptures made
cal manner and can also be used as a tire swing.
out of found materials) can cultivate an appreciation of this new urban aesthetic.
Using some of the wood found on the site to create a larger-than-life teaching model (see Figure 88), programs could partner with the Missouri Botanical
52 • design
Perspective of forest walk. design â€˘ 53
New street edge
the city edge The edge condition is one of the most crucial parts of
pedestrian friendly: narrowing the roads, repairing
community gardens (see Figure 91) mark the start of
the design because it draws people in and marks the
the sidewalks, planting trees and flowers (see Figure
a new corridor of green infrastructure leading from
transition between the neighborhood and the park,
92). The edge of the site along Jefferson and Cass
the site â€“ a way for the city to use the vacant land in a
between city and forest.
is made up of a series of garden rooms and planting
more productive manner.
To begin to pull people out of the housing enclaves
beds (both agricultural and ornamental) that are part
and onto the streets, the streets need to be more
of the more familiar domestic pattern and scale. The
54 â€˘ design
Stairs in space-frame structure leading to the forest walk.
a sense of wonder Equally important to traditional education about the
whimsy and wonder to be found in City Forest. A pile
the site and the city (see Figure 93), as well as a way
site are the experiential qualities of the site. The large
of tires can become a dragon and sections of pipe
to get closer to nature.
number of schools in proximity to the site (see Figure
can become a tunnel (see Figure 94). The space-
46) offers a unique opportunity to explore potential
frame structure provides an entirely new way to view design â€˘ 55
Stairs in space-frame structure leading to the forest walk.
56 â€˘ design
Although this project is about moving forward
er to form tight-knit communities in the wake of
inscribed. In the corridor, the path is surrounded
from the legend of Pruitt-Igoe, it is important to
the violence. After Pruitt-Igoe was demolished,
by rubble, symbolizing both the destruction
pay homage to the true legacy of Pruitt-Igoe:
they were scattered throughout the city. Their
of the project and the danger in the glass cor-
the people who lived there. Despite the horrific
memorial is simple in design: the footprint of
ridors. The middle of the memorial is four steel
living conditions and constant maligning from
one of the buildings, with either end serving as a
columns, where the elevator would have been,
the press, some of the residents banded togeth-
forecourt where the residentsâ€™ memories will be
standing erect like a tower amidst the meadow.
next steps: building community
my + revita li
In order to truly become catalytic, the project needs to
move beyond its boundaries and begin to affect positive change in the neighborhood. I wanted to coordinate strategic growth from several points to eventually create
north, which could eventually become a corridor of green infrastructure (incorporating parks, stormwater manage-
moves through neighborhoods and side streets, creating more diverse communiites
to potential agriculture in the swath of vacant land to the
creates a diverse corridor of new green infrastructure: agriculture, stormwater management, public parks, etc.
The urban edge of city.forest provides a perfect transition
a ring of revitalization (see Figure 65).
ment, etc). The economic and residential revitalization efforts in Old
North St. Louis have been very successful, and could
eventually start to bring back some of the economy along
the major streets of the neighborhood. Washington Avenue, which just won an APA Great Streets
eventually connects with Old North St. Louis (which is blocked to the south by industry)
Award, is slowly growing west, and I think that it could slowly grow northward to connect downtown to north
follows major streets, slowly growing towards north city
city mus eum
conceptual district masterplan
design â€˘ 57
pruitt-igoe’s legacy As we move into the 21st century, Pruitt-Igoe needs a new narrative. Although historians like Michael Allen and Katherine Bristol have tried to unravel the twisted threads of its history, the site remains untouched – full of promise but hindered by its current conditions and the shadow of its past. By becoming City Forest the site can reconnect to its fractured neighborhood, reveal and honor the memories of Pruitt-Igoe, preserve its rich ecology, connect with the new character of St. Louis, and become a catalyst for the district. Instead of remaining an urban scar, the site can finally fulfill its potential. By understanding the complex history of the site, its implications, and how it connects to the city today, you can create a St. Louis solution to a St. Louis problem.
58 • conclusion
list of references Allen, Michael. Preservation Research Office, architectural historian. Personal interview, 30 December 2011. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jerkinhead/with/5815455487/ Barton, Craig E. Sites of Memory: Perspectives on Architecture and Race. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001. Print. Baybeck, Brady, and E T. Jones. St. Louis Metromorphosis: Past Trends and Future Directions. St. Louis: University of Missouri Press, 2004. Print. Birmingham, Elizabeth. “Reframing the Ruins: Pruitt-Igoe, Structural Racism, and African American Rhetoric as a Space for Cultural Critique.” International Journal of Architectural Theory. 1998. Bright, Elise M. Reviving America’s Forgotten Neighborhoods: An Investigation of Inner City Revitalization Efforts. New York: Garland Pub, 2000. Print. Bristol Katherine G, “The Pruitt-Igoe Myth”, edited by Eggener Keith L, American Architectural History: A Contemporary Reader, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2004 Freidrichs, Chad, Jaime Freidrichs, Paul Fehler, Brian Woodman, Benjamin Balcom, and Jason Henry. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth. Columbia, Mo.: Unicorn Stencil, 2011 http://www.flickr.com/photos/pruitt-igoe/sets/ Gallagher, John. Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City. Detroit, Mich: Wayne State University Press, 2010. Print. Gordon, Colin. Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. Print. Greenstein, Rosalind, and Yesim Sungu-Eryilmaz. Recycling the City: The Use and Reuse of Urban Land. Cambridge, Mass: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2004. Print. Hough, Michael. City Form and Natural Process: Towards a New Urban Vernacular. London: Routledge, 1989. Print Hurley, Andrew. Beyond Preservation: Using Public History to Revitalize Inner Cities. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010. Print. Pruitt-Igoe Now: The Unmentioned Modern Landscape. Competition Brief. <http://www.pruittigoenow.org/ wp-content/uploads/2011/07/CompetitionBrief_PruittIgoeNow.pdf> Rainwater, Lee. Behind Ghetto Walls: Black Families in a Federal Slum. Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co, 1970. Print. Rainwater, Lee. “The Lessons of Pruitt-Igoe.” National Affairs. No. 8, Summer 1967. <http://www.nationalaffairs.com/doclib/20080516_196700808thelessonsofpruittigoeleerainwater.pdf> Rosenfeld, Richard. Hidden Assets: Connecting the Past to the Future of St. Louis. St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 2006. Print. Sandweiss, Eric. St. Louis: The Evolution of an American Urban Landscape. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001. Print.
conclusion • 59
Published on May 25, 2012
Published on May 25, 2012
While the image of the implosion of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe project continues to shock the world of architecture and planning, the site its...