Pruitt-Igoe NOW is an opportunity to start an ongoing collaboration between designers and communities to promote civic ownership. The Fantastic Pruitt-Igoe! gives the schoolchildren of St. Louis the agency and resources to build the social and urban future they want, creating a flexible, constantly changing site stimulated by imagination, hope, knowledge, and the joy of sharing in creation. The historically grounded and community-oriented nature of this process memorializes the strong bonds between former Pruitt-Igoe residents, while repudiating the modernist and bureaucratic design processes that came to define the housing projects’ failure.
The Fantastic Pruitt-Igoe! process turns the unclaimed portion of the former Pruitt-Igoe site into a modern day commons and fairgrounds, full of structures, programs, and temporary activities conceived and governed by an knowledgeable and empowered youth council. In partnership with civic organizations, design groups, and the City of St. Louis, these students will redefine and recreate the meaning of the site each year, so that it changes with their wishes and needs. Through their efforts, Pruitt-Igoe becomes a place to commemorate the past, to change the present, and to re-imagine the future.
Social Agency Lab is a cross-disciplinary group of designers, planners, artists, and anthropologists committed to placing social agency at the forefront of designing urban space. Social Agency Lab partnered with the Rebuild Foundation, a St. Louis organization firmly grounded in community and place, to collaborate with students from Rebuild’s Urban Expressions program. The Fantastic Pruitt Igoe! is the result of this collaboration: we have designed an iterative process to allow students to imagine, build, and govern urban space, using the former Pruitt-Igoe site as their canvas.