“The Viability of St. Louis as an Urban Place”: Karrie Jacobs on Pruitt-Igoe and Northside Regeneration

Sumac and the skyline: Downtown St. Louis viewed from inside of the Pruitt-Igoe forest.

In her Metropolis column this month, under the title of “Saint Louis Blues”, Karrie Jacobs reflects on her fall visit to St. Louis (she was keynote speaker at the FORM Contemporary Design Show). The column takes on both the Northside Regeneration project (“[n]o one could explain what he was doing, aside from getting compensated for his land purchases by a peculiar piece of Missouri legislation”) and the winners of the Pruitt Igoe Now design competition: “I’m sorry that most of the finalists have given up on the viability of St. Louis as an urban place. Residents here have nothing to feel inferior about. The component parts of a great city are still there.”

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This entry was posted in Abandonment, North St. Louis, Northside Regeneration, Pruitt Igoe. Bookmark the permalink.
  • http://twitter.com/glamvondee Lottie Lee

    I too was astonished that the majority of entries and winners for the Pruitt Igoe Now competition called for green space rather than create a new urban / mixed use space. If St. Louis is to move forward, the Pruitt Igoe site needs to be more than a park.

  • GMichaud

    I agree that the Pruitt Igoe competition entries, while creative are not urban, it is similar to efforts to find uses for vacant lots. Again I’m sure there will creative and inspiring entries, but it misses the opportunity to rethink the future of all vacant land (including Pruitt Igoe) in a viable city environment.
    Karrie Jacobs also is doubtful of McKee and his lack of plans, rightly so. At this juncture in history we are facing many challenges, the last one we should be concerned about is to find ways to make Paul McKee a wealthy man at the expense of the North Side and the future of the City.
    There is a unique opportunity to use the northside redevelopment to address high quality urban living, as well as global warming and the many issues surrounding oil usage.

    I think Karrie Jacobs does a good job of pinpointing the problems of St. Louis in her short piece. And she is right St. Louis has a good structure and great potential.
    Losing the North Side to Paul McKee and his agenda is likely to harm St. Louis well into the future if he gets is way.
    Of course ultimately the City government, the Board of Aldermen and the Mayor are responsible for allowing McKee to move forward without taking the interests of the people and the city into consideration.

  • http://www.preservationresearch.com Michael R. Allen

    I offer two follow-up thoughts:

    1. There is more vacant land in St. Louis Place neighborhood north of Cass Avenue than in the 33 acres of Pruitt-Igoe. Also there are people living and working there. Infill around existing active areas in St. Louis Place probably would have a bigger impact on the city than developing the Pruitt-Igoe site alone. Additionally neighborhood infill would retain existing residents and business, a real issue for the city.

    2. The Pruitt-Igoe forest is a unique natural resource. Accidental thought it may be, the forest is far more unique than any new development could be. In development, capitalizing on what makes a place distinct leads to more successful projects. The forest could be leveraged to attract high-quality development around it.

  • http://www.preservationresearch.com Michael R. Allen

    I offer two follow-up thoughts:

    1. There is more vacant land in St. Louis Place neighborhood north of Cass Avenue than in the 33 acres of Pruitt-Igoe. Also there are people living and working there. Infill around existing active areas in St. Louis Place probably would have a bigger impact on the city than developing the Pruitt-Igoe site alone. Additionally neighborhood infill would retain existing residents and business, a real issue for the city.

    2. The Pruitt-Igoe forest is a unique natural resource. Accidental thought it may be, the forest is far more unique than any new development could be. In development, capitalizing on what makes a place distinct leads to more successful projects. The forest could be leveraged to attract high-quality development around it.

  • http://www.preservationresearch.com Michael R. Allen

    I have to point out that the third prize winner, The Fantastic Pruitt-Igoe!, is by far the most urban entry because it focuses on social capital of north side youth. There is no set design because the future of the site would be given over to the youth governance structure. That proposal is not architectural but offers an urban planning structure that is fresh and much-needed in St. Louis. Youth are almost never consulted for plans even though they inherit the sum of our built environment decisions.

    Also there are submissions that did not become finalists. We would love to get more online in the future.