Pruitt Igoe Now Competition Submittal
By Emily Josephs, Ashleigh Quillen & Cynthia Guajardo
University of Colorado Denver, College of Architecture & Planning
To better understand how cities function, we have borrowed ideas from urban metabolism studies as a lens to investigate the former Pruitt-Igoe site and Greater St. Louis, a shrinking American city. Urban metabolism provides a way to think about the health of our cities—complex human made systems that overlay natural ones. By drawing an analogy between cities and the biological processes of organisms, we can start to frame and attempt to measure physical, cultural, social, economic, and political health by analyzing the flows and exchange of materials and energy in our communities. The former Pruitt-Igoe housing project is located at the heart of St. Louis’ slowing metabolism. Given the enormity of affecting change in this part of the city, is there potential on the ground, beginning with the Pruitt-Igoe site, to alter perceptions of depopulating cities? After thorough analysis, we propose a formula whereby adapted vegetation (rather than buildings) serve to catalyze a healthier ground condition for North St. Louis with the potential to direct future development in an evocative and healthful manner.
This investigation addresses urban void as a characteristic of the 21st century urban condition. The multi-dimensional nature of the urban void reveals the eerie presence of past, present, and future embedded within these empty and abandoned spaces. Pruitt-Igoe serves as our target cell from which we begin to uncover the urban void in relation to its historic context, location, and current condition of the post-industrial, historically segregated, depopulating city. Our proposal aims to rethink marginalized spaces and reconnect them to vital city functions—a reinvigorated urban metabolism. Ultimately, we believe that the tension between a state of vacancy and no vacancy is a question best left open to interpretation.