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Project Brief

Pruitt Igoe Now is looking for bold ideas. And, for ideas from sources as diverse in media and background as possible. For forty years, the interpreted memory of the Pruitt-Igoe buildings has existed as a cautionary tale to architects, urbanists, and the public—and for just as long, these acres of land have been dormant, now largely overtaken with foliage. What is the future of the Pruitt-Igoe site?

In crafting a proposal, the designer(s) should carefully choose and define the site for the proposal. We leave as an open inquiry what part of the Pruitt-Igoe site or its surroundings requires intervention or contemplation through this competition. Of course, there is the historic boundary of the Pruitt-Igoe project, bounded by Cass Avenue to the north, North 20th Street to the east, Carr Street to the south and North Jefferson to the west. The Site Description section includes information about what exists inside of and around that boundary. Yet around the boundary is a surrounding urban environment inclusive of several neighborhoods and containing some remaining built resources whose histories are intertwined with that of Pruitt-Igoe. Both Jefferson and Cass Avenues are major thoroughfares, with Cass Avenue connecting west to merge into Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and Jefferson Avenue connecting south to downtown and to the former Mill Creek Valley, one of St. Louis’ historic African-American neighborhoods almost completely removed around the time that Pruitt-Igoe opened. Additionally, Pruitt-Igoe is near the site of the Gateway Arch, an iconic work of modernist design that serves as both the signifier of St. Louis and as the most recognized architectural work in the region.

This competition asks entrants to imagine a way forward for the site, not necessarily a fully-designed built environment to supplant the existing site. To that end, Pruitt Igoe Now recognizes that a ‘product’ may not be the solution. Perhaps a proposal rooted in a ‘process’ of reclamation is more appropriate, and such proposals are welcome. We ask that submissions seriously consider the consequences of altering the current state of the 33 vacant acres of the Pruitt-Igoe site, as well as the implications of removing the remaining buildings and infrastructure that have always been part of Pruitt-Igoe’s historic cultural landscape. Further, as solutions emerge for this sensitive site, more questions arise: How do we proceed from here? Who should have say? Who is most affected? Who has the most claim to this space? Who stands to profit?

We invite architects to imagine new ways of inhabiting the site, with perhaps invented or emergent architectural typologies. Urban planners might design new and critical connections between this site, the surrounding St. Louis neighborhoods of St. Louis Place, JeffVanderLou, Carr Square and Downtown West, and the city center of St. Louis and the Gateway Arch just three miles to the south. Landscape architects might introduce urban agriculture to the site, or design a field memorial. Novelists and writers are invited to submit manifestos, narratives, and poetry. A singular image could propose an imagined future for the site. A short film could speculate upon possible future inhabitations.

Awards & Exhibition

Our jurors will select the first, second and third most inspiring proposals and award them $1,000, $750 and $500 respectively. A broad selection of entries will receive honorable mention and inclusion in an online gallery.

All entries will be publicly displayed in St. Louis for several weeks in 2012. The setting for display will be publicly accessible and either on or near the Pruitt-Igoe site itself. Through open display, entrants will be addressing those who have called Pruitt-Igoe and the surrounding neighborhoods home.

The advisory committee also plans to curate select competition submissions into a traveling exhibition that will tour beginning in Summer 2012.

The Jury

Teddy Cruz

Professor in Public Culture and Urbanism, Visual Arts Department, University of California, San Diego; Co-Founder, CUE / Center for Urban Ecologies

Teddy Cruz was born in Guatemala City. He obtained a Master in Design Studies at Harvard University in 1997 and established his research-based architecture practice in San Diego, California in 2000.

He has been recognized internationally for his urban research of the Tijuana-San Diego border. In 1991, he received the prestigious Rome Prize in Architecture and in 2005 he was the first recipient of the James Stirling Memorial Lecture On The City Prize. His work has been profiled in important publications including the New York Times, Domus, and Harvard Design Magazine. In 2008, he represented the US in the Venice Architecture Biennial and this year his work is included in the Small Scale, Big Change exhibition at MoMA.

He is currently a professor in public culture and urbanism in the Visual Arts Department at the University of California, San Diego, where he co-founded CUE / Center for Urban Ecologies.

Theaster Gates, Jr.

Artist in Residence and Director of Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago; Founder, Rebuild Foundation

Theaster Gates inhabits many practices: artist, activist, caretaker, community instigator, cultural planner, designer, educator, musician, neighborhood restorer, placement officer, repairman, transformer. Trained both as an urban planner and sculptor, Gates is interested in notions of bureaucratic systems and urban economies, investigating various models of communal space from cultural to gastronomic to spiritual—in particular, black spaces of ecstasy. Besides organizing music gatherings, creating spiritually charged totems and maintaining a love for clay, he also works as Artist in Residence and Director of Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago while implementing his artistic practice directly into the urban fabric.

Theaster maintains part time presence in St. Louis along with Dayna Kriz, Regina Martinez and Charlie Vinz. Working through their organization, Rebuild Foundation, a small design and arts education engine which focuses on Urban reinvestment in Hyde Park.

Bob Hansman

Associate Professor, School of Architecture, Washington University in St. Louis

Bob Hansman received his BFA (Drawing and Painting, English Literature, Religious Studies) from the University of Kansas in 1970 and has been milking that little BFA for all it’s worth ever since. Highlights of his college years were meeting Coretta Scott King and Bobby Kennedy and getting beaten up by members of the Ku Klux Klan, and ever since then he has been making up his life as it goes based on the lessons he learned then. Much to his own surprise, he wound up an Associate Professor in the Washington University School of Architecture where, in addition to teaching studio and drawing courses, he developed a course—Community Building, Building Community—that brings Washington University students together with members of the Wellston Loop, the Ville, and Kinloch to discover opportunities for shared personal and community involvement. In 1994 he founded City Faces, a year-round art and mentorship program for kids living in public housing downtown; and in 2002 he adopted one of his first students, Jovan, who now directs the day-to-day operations of City Faces. For the City Faces program, Bob was included in Coming Up Taller, a publication of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in 1996 and received a Missouri Arts Award in 1997. For his teaching at Washington University, Bob received an Emerson Electric Excellence in Teaching Award in 2000 and a Washington University Founders Day Distinguished Faculty Award in 2001. He also received a Washington University Bob and Gerry Virgil Ethic of Service Award in 2005, and Bob and Jovan together received a FOCUS St. Louis “What’s Right With The Region!” Award in 2008. In 2010, Bob delivered the Martin Luther King, Jr., address at Graham Chapel and received the Rosa L.Parks Memorial Award for Meritorious Service to the Community. Bob spent time in Pruitt-Igoe as a kid.

Joseph Heathcott

Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Senior Director, Participatory Citizenship and Community Activism Initiative, The New School

Joseph Heathcott studies the American metropolis and its diverse cultures, institutions, and environments within a comparative and global perspective. His main interest is in the public role of scholarship and teaching, and the civic engagement of students and teachers in the world around them. He is also a compulsive peripatetic, amateur archivist, and collector of LPs, post cards, old radios, books, and found objects.

During the academic year 2010-2011, Joseph Heathcott served as the U.S. Fulbright Distinguished Chair to the United Kingdom at the University of the Arts in London, and as a Senior Visiting Scholar at the London School of Economics. His articles, photographs, maps, drawings, and exhibits have appeared in a range of venues, from books and magazines, to exhibits, blogs, 'zines, and journals of opinion. His research on the social and design history of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe public housing project led to an exhibition at MIT titled Vertical City and to a book currently nearing completion with University of Chicago Press. Most recently, his photography exhibit Post-Acropolis Metropolis was installed at the Town Hall Gallery in Stuttgart, Germany.

Joseph Heathcott has been awarded fellowships from U.S. Fulbright, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Erasmus Institute, the Mellon Foundation, and the Brown Center for the Humanities. He has been invited to lecture, consult, and judge design reviews in a wide variety of venues both in the U.S. and internationally. Currently he serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Urban Pedagogy, and frequently volunteers his time with neighborhood groups and community organizations around issues of planning, preservation, and urban design.

Sarah Kanouse

Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Iowa

Sarah Kanouse is an interdisciplinary artist examining landscape, public space, and cultural memory through arts practice and writing. Her solo and collaborative research-based work has been exhibited widely in programs mounted by Documenta 13; the Smart Museum (Chicago); Artlink (Belgrade), and many universities, festivals, and artist-run spaces. Sarah’s critical writings have appeared in the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, Leonardo, Acme, and Art Journal, and she is a core collaborator with the Compass of the Midwest Radical Culture Corridor. She received her undergraduate education from Yale University and an MFA in studio art from the University of Illinois. An Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Iowa, she teaches specialized courses in video/time-based media and art and ecology.

Diana Lind

Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief, Next American City

Diana Lind is executive director and editor in chief of Next American City, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit media organization dedicated to connecting cities and informing the people who are working to improve them. After nine years of publishing a quarterly magazine about transportation, education, the economy, arts, culture and other aspects of urban policy, Next American City will begin publishing an online weekly magazine this spring. Next American City hosts events and conferences to network the next generation of urban leaders, and has just launched The Storefront for Urban Innovation in Brewerytown to bring exciting ideas for cities and international experts to Philadelphia. In addition to directing Next American City, Diana was a 2011 Van Alen Institute Fellow where she curated the Life at the Speed of Rail competition and the author of Brooklyn Modern: Architecture, Interiors & Design.

Sergio Palleroni

Professor of Architecture, Portland State University

Sergio Palleroni (B.Arch. University of Oregon, MSArchS MIT) is a Senior Fellow of the new Center for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University, and a founding member and faculty of the federally funded Green Building Research Lab. Professor Palleroni’s research and fieldwork for the last two decades has been in the methods of integrating sustainable practices to improve the lives of communities worldwide typically underserved. In 1988 to serve the needs of these communities he founded an academic outreach program that would later become the Basic Initiative, a service learning fieldwork program which each year challenges students from US and abroad to apply their education in service of underserved communities throughout the globe. Today the Basic Initiative continues to have programs worldwide that serve the poor in Asia, Latin America and Africa as well as in the US. . In addition Professor Palleroni has worked and been a consultant on sustainable architecture and development in the developing world since the 1980′s both for not-for-profit agencies and governmental and international agencies such as UNESCO, the World Bank, and the governments of China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Taiwan.

The work of the BASIC Initiative has most recently been documented in Studio At Large: Architecture in Service of Global Communities (2004), Building a Strawbale House (2005), and Architecture Like You Give a Damn (2006), Teaching Sustainability in Asia (2007), Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism (2009), Beyond Shelter: Towards an Architecture of Human Dignity (2011), as well as several documentaries including the PBS series Design: e² (2006), all of which explore the BASIC Initiatives efforts to improve, and make sustainable, the lives of the planet’s poorest citizens.

Competition Managers

Michael R. Allen

Michael R. Allen is the Director of the Preservation Research Office, a St. Louis-based collaborative that undertakes projects at the intersection of architectural history, cultural memory and community. Allen’s writing exploring placemaking, meaning and depleted urban landscapes includes a chapter in The Making of An All-America City: East St. Louis at 150 (Virginia Publishing, 2011) as well as numerous articles.

Nora Wendl

Nora Wendl is Assistant Professor of Architecture at Portland State University. Her research establishes intersections between contemporary art, literature, architecture and its historiography. To that end, Professor Wendl is co-editor, with Isabelle Loring Wallace, of Contemporary Art about Architecture: A Strange Utility (Ashgate 2013), and has collaborated with artists Harmen Liemburg and Theaster Gates. In 2010-2011 she was a resident at the Jack Straw Writers Program, where she completed a body of poetry on the history of the Farnsworth House as recorded by its patron, Edith Farnsworth. In 2012, with Michael Allen, she co-organized the international design competition Pruitt Igoe Now, which sought proposals to address the still-vacant site of the former Pruitt and Igoe housing project. Her research has been featured in publications including "(Non-) Essential Knowledge for (New) Architecture" (306090 Book 15), David L. Hayes, ed. (New York: 306090, Inc.: forthcoming 2013), and at national conferences and literary festivals, and her drawings and installations have been exhibited in galleries and a variety of academic venues. She holds a B.Arch and M.Arch from Iowa State University.

Advisory Committee

Sylvester Brown, Jr.
Founder, When We Dream Together, Inc.
Vincent DeForest
Cultural Historian
Virginia Druhe
St. Louis Place Resident
Robert W. Duffy
Associate Editor, St. Louis Beacon
Paul Fehler
Producer, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth
Karl Grice, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP
Past President, St. Louis Chapter, American Institute of Architects
April Ford-Griffin
Former Alderwoman, Fifth Ward, City of St. Louis
Sal Martinez
Executive Director, Community Renewal and Development, Inc.
Eric Mumford
Professor of Architectural History, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis
Marcia Williams
Former Resident, Pruitt-Igoe
Brian Woodman
Producer, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth

Contest Submission Guidelines

Entry into this competition is open to anyone, from any place, and from any discipline. Submission text must be in English. Further, entrants confirm that the submitted material is their own original or collaborative work, does not infringe upon any copyright law, and that they do indeed have permission to publish the material.

Entry Fee & Deadline

The entry fee is $20 per submission. Entrants may submit up to 3 entries in teams or individually, each with a $20 fee. The fees go to Pruitt Igoe Now, a nonprofit corporation, and only will be used toward promotion and exhibition of the competition.

In order to submit ideas, all the individual or team must have registered and been submitted online by Friday, March 16, 2012 at 6 pm EST.

Submission Format

Submissions must be delivered as either a single 24" × 36" layout (any orientation; JPG or PDF format; 10 MB max file size), or a short video. If submitting a video, submission may be HD or smaller, 1920 x 1080 pixels max; MOV format; 120 seconds max length; 25 MB max file size. 24” x 36” layouts may range from a single image, to designed text, to a conventional architectural competition board. No format will be given preference over any other, and originality and authenticity are encouraged. Images and videos may be reduced in resolution or compressed to meet file size limitations, but must be submitted in the required formats (no zip files). All submissions will be judged in their on-screen format. However, winning entrants will be asked to provide their work in original, high-resolution format (300 dpi or greater) for publication and exhibition purposes.

Statement text

A text statement of 300 words maximum, explaining the project’s conceptual approach and its design intent must be included in the cover letter of the submission form. Designers and authors should locate themselves in relation to the Pruitt-Igoe project. How do you know about Pruitt-Igoe? What interests you most about the site and its future? What connection do you have to the site, to St. Louis, to public housing or to modern architecture? Reverence for the people whose lives are deeply tied to the site through experience should be apparent.


The submissions will be judged by the Jurors anonymously and the entrant’s name should not appear anywhere on the submission.

Entrants acknowledge that the Project Organizers of Pruitt Igoe Now may exhibit all entries in the online gallery, and a selection of entries may be chosen for physical exhibition, public display and publication in a book or website format. Pruitt Igoe Now will make every effort to notify entrants of any public exhibitions of their work through correspondence with the registered contact.

In entering the design competition, entrants grant the Project Organizers of Pruitt Igoe Now unrestricted license to exercise the entrants’ rights regarding their design submissions, including, but not limited to, reproduction, preparation of derivative works, distribution of copies of the design submission, and the right to authorize such use by others.

Announcement, Displays and Publication of Results

In entering the competition, the registrant and all team members recognize the competition’s program as the intellectual property of Pruitt Igoe Now and agree to credit the competition by name in any exhibition or publication of the project. Entrants will be credited on all online and print material published by the organizers of the competition.