As students of architecture at the graduate level, Pruitt Igoe was introduced to us in our undergraduate education. Our interests lie within the significance of the site, taking a position against generic redevelopment that ignores the history.
Our concept was to continue the legacy of Pruitt Igoe as an urban housing project through a non-prescriptive and optional development process beginning with its current condition. The project can be broken down into three components: programmed public spaces, anticipated on-site developments, and an innovative housing exhibition. Nature running its course over the past three-plus decades reclaimed the Pruitt Igoe site and using it to our advantage, the goal was not to create an experience of history (as in memorials) but suggest or instill memories of the past. The palimpsest framework consisted of two historical layers that helped define the project — nineteenth century tenement layouts and the original Pruitt Igoe building footprints. The latter was revived in the form of programmed public spaces supporting various activities throughout the year within an urban vegetated oasis. They become the void in the landscape, a condition that may reverse over time as developments move in while the footprints become more immersed as a public function.
Development within the Pruitt Igoe site is an anticipated event rather than a planned expansion. This allows a more flexible framework for growth as opposed to the rigid policies of Pruitt Igoe. The intension is for small scale developments such as workshops, studios, restaurants, cafés, houses, and family shops.
The site is also grounds to an innovative housing exhibition, a commentary on the failed living standards of Pruitt Igoe, and explores affordable and sustainable housing as a catalyst for future growth.