Pruitt Igoe Now opened on July 1, 2011 and closed on March 16, 2012. The independent ideas competition’s long run allowed for two unusual features: first, entrants were expected to devise their own programs from provided background information, and second, entrants were encouraged to take one of several provided site tours. Closing on the date of the first demolition blast at the housing project, Pruitt Igoe Now attracted 348 submissions. The volume necessitated a long review, and the seven-member jury released a list of 31 finalists on June 4, 2012. On June 25, 2012, the competition released the three prize winners selected in the second round of jury review:
Heather Dunbar and Xiaowei R. Wang’s inventive vision for an urban horticultural production line centered on the vacant 33-acre remainder of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project is the first prize winner of the international ideas competition Pruitt Igoe Now. Entitled “St. Louis Ecological Production Line,” the submission synthesizes approaches to vacant land reclamation and urban agriculture found throughout the competition’s entries, while offering an expansive program that could sequentially grow to develop surrounding vacant land in north St. Louis.
“Many entries propose urban agriculture as a solution for the site, as this is a fashionable concept. This entry, however, is the most well-conceived of that group. It intersects in sophisticated ways with the neighborhood, it is proposes a phased and scalable operation, and it draws on multiple forms of agro-husbandry,” wrote juror Joseph Heathcott, Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Senior Director, Participatory Citizenship and Community Activism Initiative, The New School.
Pruitt Igoe Now’s second prize goes to Aroussiak Gabrielian and Alison Hirsch’s entry “Recipe Landscape,” which envisions the communal experience of eating ice cream as a path to the site’s future. Heathcott described “Recipe Landscape as “the best of the ‘agro-husbandry’ entries, oriented as it is around a very coherent program linking site and economic development.” Heathcott and other jurors suggested that “Recipe Landscape” and “St. Louis Ecological Production Line” were not mutually exclusive proposals for the site.
Third prize is awarded to Social Agency Lab for “The Fantastic Pruitt-Igoe!”, which proposes not a specific design but a multi-year process through which north side youth can debate, explore and shape the future of the site. Juror Teddy Cruz, Professor in Public Culture and Urbanism, Visual Arts Department, University of California, San Diego and Co-Founder, Center for Urban Ecologies, praised the entry for “provid[ing] a process that would suggest the socio-economic protocols that would achieve it, meaning the choreography of the management and collaboration across institutions and communities — with a level of specificity.”
Pruitt Igoe Now sought the ideas of the creative community worldwide, inviting individuals and teams of professional, academic, and student architects, landscape architects, designers, writers and artists of every discipline to re-imagine the 57 acres on which the Pruitt-Igoe housing project was once located. Taking the 40th anniversary of the start of the fabled modernist project’s demolition as a starting point, the competition as “What is Pruitt-Igoe now?” In the spirit of that original St. Louis architectural competition—to which the Eero Saarinen-designed Gateway Arch stands as witness—this competition imagined the site of Pruitt-Igoe as a frontier: the threshold between North St. Louis, which is showing signs of stabilization after decades of decline, and the new design for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.
The jury was composed of Teddy Cruz, Professor in Public Culture and Urbanism, Visual Arts Department, University of California, San Diego and Co-Founder, Center for Urban Ecologies; Theaster Gates Jr., Artist in Residence and Director of Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago and Founder, Rebuild Foundation; Bob Hansman, Associate Professor, School of Architecture, Washington University in St. Louis; Joseph Heathcott, Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Senior Director, Participatory Citizenship and Community Activism Initiative, The New School; Diana Lind, Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief, Next American City; Sarah Kanouse, Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Iowa; and Sergio Palleroni, Associate Professor of Architecture, Department of Architecture, Portland State University.
Future plans for Pruitt Igoe Now include launching an international traveling exhibition, beginning in St. Louis in July 2012.
The complete list of 31 finalists and their projects is available on the Projects page.
Michael R. Allen, Founder and Director of the Preservation Research Office, and Nora Wendl, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Department of Architecture, Portland State University, initiated, designed and managed the competition. The prize awards and all expenses were financed exclusively through the entry fees collected.