Fascinated by the polysemic dimension of Pruitt-Igoe, which simultaneously represents the end of modern architecture (for architectural theorists), the failure of space-planning in addressing social issues (for city officials), an iconic image of urban destruction (for popular culture), and a betrayed promised land (for the former residents), we decided to further investigate the definition which revealed its deeper social and political meaning. In doing so, we opened a Pandora’s box – the more research we did, the more we realized that the project’s fate was merely an emblematic detail in the larger picture.
We found out that Pruitt-Igoe and “the new American ruins” were the necessary counterpart of the American dream, and that the tangle of individual choices shaping a suburban America was actually sustained by public policies.
Disinvestment in the city reflected a centrifugal movement whose physical violence concealed a more subtle shift of paradigm: the very essence of the city – its diversity, density, chaos – were at odds with the im-age of suburban happiness which was making its way into the nation’s vision.
The peculiar drama of St. Louis urged us upon focusing on the fundamental qualities that make a city live-ly.
We maintain the idea of the city as man’s most successful attempt to remake the world he lives in and aim to trigger the understanding of the city as the ultimate place to live in, a place where inexhaustible opportunities can make the life of men fuller and richer.
Finally, our European heritage plays a role in our attempt to raise individual consciousness of the values of the city and promote direct engagement of the residents in the process of envisioning it; It is also a plea to reconsider the importance of public space as the quintessential character of cities.