Mid-Century Modern Midtown Pruitt Igoe Urban Renewal Era

Mid-Century Modernism, Race and Equality: Two St. Louis Landmarks

by Michael R. Allen

The notion of buildings that speak helps us to place at the very centre of our architectural conundrums the questions of the values we want to live by – rather than merely of how we want things to look.
– Alan de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness

In 1956, two small one-story buildings were completed around the downtown area. One was designed by a renowned modernist designer for a growing financial institution, while the other was a modest building built by a family-owned business. Yet both buildings were modern in style, and, more importantly, built amid rapid and often conflict-laden demographic changes around the city’s commercial core. These commercial outposts would become most significant for association with the city’s struggles for racial and social equality. Today these two buildings speak of the contradictions inherent in mid-century modernism: the remaining beauty of design and the unacknowledged backdrops of overt racism and economic strife.

The Jefferson Bank and Trust Company: dual icon of architectural modernism and the local civil rights movement.

Yet neither building sports a plaque, and one most likely will be demolished. Both are keys to showing the story of the city’s social justice struggles in the recent past. While businessmen perched at desks in modern office towers downtown, and families enjoyed sunlight from large banks of windows in their latest Eichleresque ranch in St. Louis County, thousands of St. Louisans fought for the same opportunities. Modernist architecture sometimes was the backdrop there as well, as two very different buildings show.

The Jefferson Bank and Trust Company Building: W.A. Sarmiento Meets CORE

Earlier this year, the Cultural Resources Office kicked off the citywide St. Louis Modern architectural survey (conducted with assistance from Portland-based Peter Meijer Architect PC and modernista Christine Madrid French) by publishing an image of the Jefferson Bank and Trust Company building at the southwest corner of Jefferson and Market streets. The architectural symbolism was double: the building is both the work of one of St. Louis’ most important modernist commercial designers and the site of one of the city’s most significant (and complicated) civil rights demonstrations. That the project would be visually marked by a building connected to both aesthetics and social unrest bodes well for future local scholarship in modern architecture.

The corner entrance of the building has been altered, but the form is intact.

The striking modernist bank building is the work of celebrated architect W.A. Sarmiento, in his capacity as chief designer for Bank Building and Equipment Corporation of America, and was completed in 1956. The building was the second home of a bank that started on a site three blocks north and moved to its present home on Market Street in 1977. When the new bank opened on April 2, 1956, the press reported that it was the first new bank building in the city completed since 1928. The unknown veracity of that claim does not diminish the fact that Sarmiento’s hand places the building among the region’s finest modernist works.

Wenceslao A. Sarmiento, born in Peru, started designing for the prolific Bank Building and Equipment Corporation of America in 1949. By 1952, Sarmiento was chief of design and had reoriented the company’s design practice toward a brand of iconic, playful modernism that drew inspiration from work by Frank Lloyd Wright, Oscar Niemeyer, Harris Armstrong and other less-than-doctrinaire designers. Sarmiento eschewed the functionalist conventions of the International Style, and even introduced ornament to his designs through lettering, grilles and other elements. Sarmiento is a peer to Edward Durrell Stone and others nationwide breaking from academic modernism. In St. Louis, Sarmiento’s work includes the IBEW Local #1 Headquarters (1960), the Chancery of the Archdiocese (1963) and the AAA Building (1976, designed through his subsequent solo firm).

Ahead of the contract for the Jefferson Bank and Trust Company building, the Bank Building and Equipment Corporation felt the pains of the postwar building economy. Remodeling projects outnumbered new buildings ten to one in 1952. However by 1956 the firm had 35 new projects, including substantial new construction projects. These trends reflect trends across St. Louis in which postwar modernism’s first major commercial wave consisted largely of remodeling and recladding projects.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch heralded the new bank building upon completion in 1956.

For the Jefferson Bank and Trust Company building (incidentally built after demolition of the St. Louis Coliseum of 1908 designed by Frederick C. Bonsack), Sarmiento conjured a planar sonata of sorts. The main entrance, now bricked in, was located at the corner under a prominent sloped wall plane that joined a dramatic back-sloped roof plane over the office areas. This was offset with a roof plan of diverging slopes on the west side of the building, where the lobby was located. As prominent as the pronounced roof forms were the eight drive-up banking windows underneath projecting flat roofs. The building’s materials bridged the gap between resolute modernism and local building culture: local red brick, metal and stucco. The price of construction was reported at $650,000.

The bank building viewed from the northwest, showing the rear roof profile.
The Jefferson Bank and Trust Company building viewed from the southeast.

Implanted in a space age building, Jefferson Bank and Trust Company’s assets grew future-forward, from $22 million in 1955 to $52 million in 1963. The context for the building changed greatly as well. The city cleared the 97 block Mill Creek Valley district to the south starting in 1959, changing the entire context of the area from a historic African-American neighborhood to a monumental corporate and institutional park. The massive Pruitt-Igoe housing project had opened to the north in 1956, fostering changes in surrounding blocks. All of a sudden, Jefferson Bank and Trust Company was central to the storms of struggle and radical urban surgery. The corner of Washington and Jefferson was no longer a placid spot for business, but ripe with potent unrest as palpable as the lines with which Sarmiento endowed the building.

In 1963, the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) led demonstrations against Jefferson Bank and Trust Company over the bank’s dismal record in hiring and promoting African-Americans to professional positions. While other banks were equally complicit in these patterns, Jefferson Bank and Trust Company stood in a historically black neighborhood and held state and city funds (including public employee pension funds). CORE’s leaders thought that pressure on the bank could lead to withdrawal of public funds.

One of the early demonstrations at Jefferson Bank and Trust Company in summer 1963.

CORE demonstrations in summer 1963 quickly led to an injunction from the St. Louis Circuit Court. On August 30, 1963, 250 demonstrators gathered and marched into the bank singing “We Shall Not Be Moved” and “We Shall Overcome” in defiance of the court order. Nine demonstrators, including future Congressman William L. Clay, Marion Oldham, Norman Seay and others, were arrested and late sentenced to jail time. Other demonstrators were arrested on October 4 and 7 following more demonstrations. The demonstrations raised public awareness of racist bank practices, but failed to achieve the result of getting the city to remove funds or immediate bank changes. Many people served jail terms, and activists became divided over the tactics and strategy used.

The outcome of CORE’s efforts galvanized more radical young activists who widely viewed the failed demonstrations as the result of timid traditional activism. New paths were forged in the wake of the Jefferson Bank and Trust Company demonstrations. Percy Green II denounced the “battle fatigue” of older CORE leaders and founded the Action Committee to Increase Opportunities for Negroes (ACTION) in 1965. Green soon after would shake up the city by attempting to scale another modernist landmark, Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch. That iconic work of architecture bears the scars of inequality in construction job hiring, the target of Green’s protest.

The lack of an identifying marker or official City Landmark status for the Jefferson Bank building is unfortunate. Then again, in the entire Mill Creek Valley neighborhood to the south not a single marker stands to commemorate the African-American experiences there. Only on Locust Street is there a sidewalk plaque, marking the childhood home of poet T.S. Eliot. The refusal to acknowledge these African-American history sites brings to mind the words of Norman Seay when interviewed in 2010 about the Jefferson Bank protest.

The one plaque around Mill Creek Valley marks the location of T.S. Eliot’s birthplace.

When in 2010 St. Louis Beacon writer Linda Lockhart asked if racism was still alive in St. Louis, Seay said yes — with a sobering qualification: “It’s sneaky. It’s subtle.” Interest in preserving modernist architecture in St. Louis and elsewhere has largely deflected the messy strands of design and race. Urban renewal and its landscapes are largely panned by preservationists, and the social injustice decried. Yet modern architecture’s complexities extend far beyond obviously contested sites. Struggle is as worthy of commemoration as is exemplary design — because both are integral components of the architectural battleground of postwar St. Louis.

The Pruitt Igoe Neighborhood Station: A Modest Monument

Across Cass Avenue from the forest marking the Pruitt-Igoe housing project, at 2411 Cass Avenue stands a little building with a sun-catching tapestry of modern brick on its front wall, and plain concrete blocks on its sides and back. The Richardson family built the building in 1956 and opened a delicatessen that no doubt benefited from the arrival of some 12,000 residents at the brand new public housing complex. Yet the little building would play a more significant role in the life of Pruitt-Igoe, albeit briefly.

The Pruitt-Igoe Neighborhood Station at 2411 Cass Avenue as it appears today.

The Urban League of St. Louis assumed operation of St. Louis’ anti-poverty program in September 1965. With funding coming through the Human Development Corporation, the Urban League opened four “neighborhood stations” to serve districts in north St. Louis identified as having high concentrations of poverty. These districts were Wells-Goodfellow, Easton-Taylor, Yeatman and Pruitt-Igoe. Today, with the exception of the mostly-cleared Pruitt-Igoe district, the areas are still among the city’s poorest and most in need of social services.

Map of neighborhood stations and other facilities that appeared in the Urban League of St. Louis 1966 Annual Report.

The Urban League leased the Richardson delicatessen from 1966 through 1969. During those years, the building was the Pruitt-Igoe Neighborhood Station. There, the Urban League offered an array of services including job training and placement, sex education, tutorial programs, Head Start and health classes. By 1965, Pruitt-Igoe’s woes were dire. The 33 towers already had a vacancy rate of more than 25%, and the remaining residents were nearly all African-American and among the city’s poorest. Still, residents had moxie. The people who used the Pruitt-Igoe Neighborhood Station established an advisory committee and helped the Urban League reach more residents and find private resources not included in the anti-poverty program’s annual public grant.

Social workers counseling Pruitt-Igoe residents at the Neighborhood Station. Source: 1966 Annual Report, Urban League of St. Louis.

Panacea for Pruitt-Igoe’s ills was not even remotely possible, but stopgaps were. In the little brick-faced building on Cass Avenue, the Urban League tried to help residents do the best that they could – with limited funding and limited resources. In the end, the Neighborhood Station was not enough, and when it closed drastic measures were in the works for Pruitt-Igoe. The Model Cities program went into effect nationwide, and the city of St. Louis chose a big part of north city including Pruitt-Igoe for federal funds that — had they been sufficient and steady enough – might have cleared and reshaped the area. Model Cities briefly assumed the Cass Avenue building as an office.

Inside of the Pruitt Igoe Neighborhood Station in 2008. Despite the loss of the roof, the concrete block structure is intact.

Where planners next dreamed of utopian solutions to address the dystopian realities of north city, today one will find no traces. Today, the little building is owned by Northside Regeneration LLC, which purchased it after it had long gone vacant. The four walls are strong, but the roof structure forms a wooden mess inside. Paired with the adjacent Grace Baptist church, founded by Pruitt-Igoe residents and utilizing a former neighborhood grocery store, the Neighborhood Station building is a key fragment of St. Louis’ housing crisis. I am not the first to state that the small building would make a fine Pruitt-Igoe museum. At the least, it stands silently testifying to the social realities of modernism.

The Neighborhood Station awaits an uncertain fate. Meanwhile, Grace Baptist Church is rehabilitating the building visible in the background for use as a community center.

To understand mid-century St. Louis, we must peel off our filters that privilege high-style modernism and the lives of the middle and upper classes. Our Sarmiento-designed landmarks lose a lot of context without the backdrop of Pruitt-Igoe and homegrown modern buildings like the Richardson deli. The vagaries of time, use and memory dispel any notion that we can save all. Yet as we evaluate what parts of architectural epochs are worth keeping, let us not forget sites of struggle and sites built through poverty. Until the city has vanquished racial and economic barriers, these landmarks tell us as much about ourselves as do the valuable, colorful and sophisticated modernism seen in designs that include Jefferson Bank.

Architects JeffVanderLou Metro East Mid-Century Modern Missouri North St. Louis Pruitt Igoe South St. Louis Southwest Garden Wellston

The Mid-Century Modernism of Marcel Boulicault

by Michael R. Allen

St. Louis architect Marcel Boulicault’s name probably is unfamiliar to you, but a few of his works will draw an “ah ha!” or two. Boulicault is a designer whose contributions to Modern architecture in St. Louis are largely unheralded, but that needs to change. Boulicault (1896 – 1961) is best known for an obtrusive and despised addition to the St. Louis State Hospital, the Louis H. Kohler Building, which stood directly in front of William Rumbold’s domed 1869 County Asylum building. Boulicault also designed the building that became St. Louis Fire Department Headquarters, a major state office building on Jefferson City and other prominent works. Then, there is his patented electric tooth brush — which we will discuss in a moment. Boulicault’s buildings were creative, colorful (and a bit jazzy) but also purposeful — the best mid-century combination.

Highly-idealized rendering of the Kohler Building at St. Louis State Hospital — the flip side of what would happen. Source: Missouri State Archives.
North St. Louis Northside Regeneration Pruitt Igoe

Video: Winter at Pruitt-Igoe

This video documents a site visit on January 6, 2013. What a beautiful day for a walk in the forest!

Events Pruitt Igoe

Pruitt-Igoe Panel Discussion at Laumeier Saturday

More information can be found on the Laumeier Sculpture Park website.

Abandonment North St. Louis Northside Regeneration Pruitt Igoe

“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.”

Events North St. Louis Pruitt Igoe

Pruitt Igoe Now’s Exhibition of Finalists and Winners Opens on July 25

Pruitt Igoe Now Exhibition Opening
Wednesday, July 25 from 6:00 until 9:00 p.m.
Old North St. Louis Restoration Group Gallery, 2700 N. 14th Street (at Montgomery)

The Old North St. Louis Restoration Group hosts the first exhibition presenting the winner and 31 finalists in Pruitt Igoe Now, an ideas competition that examined the future of the 33-acre forested vacant site of the former housing project. Entrants in Pruitt Igoe Now came from a wide variety of disciplines and explored futures that included design intervention, urban redevelopment, agriculture, cultural memorialization and forest management. The program includes remarks from Bob Hansman, Associate Professor of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis and a competition juror, artist and cultural activist Juan William Chavez, creator of the Pruitt-Igoe Bee Sanctuary, Michael Allen, Director of the Preservation Research Office and competition manager, Nora Wendl, Assistant Professor of Architecture at Portland State University and finalists in the competition.

(Preservation Research Office provided pro bono staffing for Pruitt Igoe Now. Alyssa J. Stein, intern, deserves many thanks for her work on the competition.)


The Northside Workshop, located at 1306 St. Louis Avenue on the same block as the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, will be open from 9:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. with an after party following the exhibit opening. There will be music, refreshments and tours of the north side’s newest art space.

Abandonment North St. Louis Pruitt Igoe Public Policy

Is St. Louis Ready for a “Land Run”?

by Michael R. Allen

On June 25, the Pruitt Igoe Now design competition (staffed by the Preservation Research Office) announced its three winners, selected from its thirty-one finalists. The scope of the initial 346 submissions that envisions a new life for the 33 vacant, forested acres of the Pruitt-Igoe site included many submissions that examined the preponderance of vacant land around the site. These submissions generally tended to look at the southern end of the St. Louis Place neighborhood, just across Cass Avenue from the site, or the eastern end of JeffVanderLou, just across Jefferson.

One of the competition finalists, a video submission entitled “LandRun,” whimsically suggests that the vacant land in and around Pruitt-Igoe be opened to development via an annual “land run” reminiscent of the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889. That event brought sudden and frenetic development, with the cities of Guthrie and Oklahoma City ending up with over 10,000 residents in one day. The impetus for settlement was the availability of plentiful undeveloped publicly-held land. North St. Louis around Cass and Jefferson remains partially settled, and has been settled through urbanization in the 19th century, but it now has vast acres of unused land. (Admittedly much of what was publicly-owned land when Pruitt Igoe Now opened in 2011 is now owned by one developer, Northside Regeneration LLC.)

“LandRun” envisions a lively and diverse re-settlement effort, and casts its prediction toward hand-tended agriculture instead of dense urban development. With the North Side Regeneration project in the area, there won’t be a land run in the area around the Pruitt-Igoe site. Yet other parts of the city, and East St. Louis, have tracts of non-taxed land currently costing local government money to maintain. Large-scale redevelopment has proven to be a perpetual myth whose pursuit only drains tax dollars and population. The 1889 land run divested the federal government of the costs of long-term land ownership while stimulating economic development and tax revenues. Could St. Louis dream of doing the same through a Land Reutilization Land Run?

“LandRun” was created by Julien Domingue, student in architecture, ENSA – Paris Belleville, Paris; Bernardo Robles Hidalgo; student in architecture, ENSA – Paris Belleville, Paris; Camille Lemeunier; student in architecture, ENSA – Paris Belleville, Paris; Laetitia Anding-Malandin; student in applied arts, visual communication, DSAA Jacques Prévert, Paris.

Demolition Housing Mid-Century Modern North St. Louis Pruitt Igoe

Not the Day Modernism Died, Not Even the Day That Pruitt-Igoe Died

by Michael R. Allen

Forty years ago today, demolition work started at the conjoined Pruitt and Igoe housing projects. On March 16, 1972, the St. Louis Housing Authority took down half of building A-16 in the Pruitt side of the project through an explosive blast. This was followed by a larger blast that took down all of double-module tower C-15 on April 21, 1972. These two spectacular demolition events led to the ultimate decision to demolish all of Pruitt-Igoe’s remaining 31 towers in 1976 and 1977. Yet on March 16, 1972, the St. Louis Housing Authority was not attempting to kill modernism, high-rise public housing or even Pruitt-Igoe. Instead, the Authority was trying to save these things.

In early 1972, the St. Louis Housing Authority created a task force of local and Department of Housing and Urban Development officials to examine physical interventions that might alleviate the problems at Pruitt-Igoe. The biggest challenge then was vast oversupply of housing units. Fewer than 400 of the over 2,800 units in the 33 towers was occupied. The St. Louis Housing Authority was faced with a need to reduce the unit count and eliminate vacant buildings in order to improve conditions for occupied buildings. Yet the fractional rent collection on the complex made solutions difficult to finance.

The locations of the three towers slated for blast, amrked on a 1959 U.S. Geological Survey photograph of the Pruitt and Igoe projects.

The task force elected to explore reducing the towers’ heights to four stories — a somewhat ironic move given that early plans had called for a low-rise development. The 1947 city Comprehensive Plan had advocated low-rise garden apartments on the site, and architect Minoru Yamasaki’s first concept for the project consisted of four and six story buildings. The St. Louis Housing Authority, under the leadership of Director Thomas Costello, elected to experiment with reducing floor heights.

However, recognizing the surplus of buildings and the need for experimentation, Costello successfully sought HUD permission to demolish three buildings in the project. These demolitions would allow for experimentation in demolition techniques to assess value engineering of the floor removal, and they also would allow the Authority to create a park in the center of the project. At one point, the Authority even explored retaining the rubble from the wrecked buildings as a sort of bizarre landscape feature.

The south face of a vacant single-module tower at Pruitt-Igoe. (Source: State Historical Society of Missouri.)

On the morning of March 16, 1972, Costello obtained a building permit for demolition of three towers, to be taken down by explosive blast. The St. Louis Housing Authority selected three towers at the center of the project, along Dickson Street (the only east-west public thoroughfare on the site, and the dividing line between the Pruitt and Igoe projects). The Authority chose towers A-16 and C-15 south of Dickson, and tower C-3 north of Dickson. C-3 would never be demolished by blast. The towers chosen included one of the 180-foot-wide single module towers, A-16, and two 360-foot-wide double module towers, C-3 and C-15. The Authority estimated the cost of demolishing the three towers at $12,000. Over $35 million in bonded construction debt was still owed on Pruitt and Igoe.

The St. Louis Housing Authority hired Dore Wrecking Company of Kawkawlin, Michigan, to conduct the demolition. St. Louis wreckers had never worked with large-scale explosives. Dore Wrecking in turn subcontracted the explosive work to a colorful firm in Towson, Maryland, named Controlled Demolition, Inc. Jack Loizeaux founded Controlled Demolition in 1947, and the company had experience using explosive methods to take down many buildings around Baltimore. The well-publicized Pruitt-Igoe blasts would make the company famous. Controlled Demolition would become the nation’s top firm for explosive demolition, and its future projects would include the Hudson’s Department Store in Detroit, the Kingdome in Seattle, and parts of Yamasaki’s World Trade Center in New York.

Building A-16 collapsing on March 16, 1972.

For A-16, Controlled Demolition planned to take down only half of the tower by blast. There was electrical equipment in the basement that the St. Louis Housing Authority wished to protect, so the other half would be taken down by crane and wrecking ball. Controlled Demolition placed specially-designed dynamite sticks into holes drilled in the building’s concrete upright columns. The detonation would start at the base of the building, to weaken its support, and travel upward.

On March 16, the demolition event was set for 1:30 p.m. At that time, officials postponed it to 2:15 p.m. That time arrived, and wreckers realized that the blast machine had accidentally went along for a pick-up ride to Lambert International Airport. John D. Loizeaux, president of Controlled Demolition, professed embarrassment at the less than punctual start of demolition. Yet the delays allowed for the blast to start after 3:00 p.m., when Pruitt School sent its elementary students home for the day. The students flocked to the demolition site.

Looking east down Dickson Street in December 2011. The sites of A-16 and C-15 are at right, while the site of C-3 is at left.

The blasts were heard as muffled gunshot-like sounds, and rather than send out a distress call, they were almost easy to miss. Upon the end of the blasts, the west half of A-16 collapsed in a rising clod of debris. Notable was that the building had lead paint used inside, and there had been no abatement. The slabs pancaked into a pile that would require hand wrecking to remove. Building A-16 was only 17 years old upon demolition, and its reinforced concrete structure was resistant to blast.

At the end of demolition, officials were confident in the methods of Controlled Demolition, and scheduled the second and more spectacular blast for April 21. Yet Thomas Costello told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “[t]his is only the first step, and there are many more to go. We don’t know what they will be at this time.” Pruitt-Igoe was not dead yet.

North St. Louis Northside Regeneration Pruitt Igoe

Pruitt-Igoe Belongs to Us

by Michael R. Allen

The St. Louis Development Corporation has proposed initiating a $100,000 two-year option on the 33-acre Pruitt-Igoe site for Paul J. McKee, Jr.’s Northside Regeneration LLC. During that time, the ddeveloper would have exclusive right to purchase the site for $900,000. What does this mean for the future of the site of one of the city’s most important events from the recent past?

For now, it means that the developer will be able to lay claim to the ground, and market the site as the potential location for commercial buildings. Yet the option does not stop public imagination of what could be done with the site. The Pruitt-Igoe parcel is owned by the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, a public agency. Thus we are all owners of the site, and its future is a question of public interest. Most sites in the Northside Regeneration footprint are of marginal historic interest, but this one is rich with symbolism. What happens to Pruitt-Igoe’s remaining vacant land reflects our collective regard for the lives of all who lived in the housing project there.

Ahead of Northside Regeneration’s option, last summer I joined my collaborator Nora Wendl in launching the independent ideas competition Pruitt Igoe Now. Pruitt Igoe Now has solicited ideas and designs for the site’s reuse, and has attracted the interest of participants from around the world. We close the competition on March 16, and announce winners in late May. Our purpose is not to block redevelopment but to offer a powerful moment of civic reflection.

A playground at Pruitt-Igoe. Photograph courtesy of the State Historical Society of Missouri.

How do we honor the past life of the Pruitt-Igoe site through its renewal? Often historic sites connected with significant African-American experience are lost without deliberation. The list of buildings lost in Mill Creek Valley, JeffVanderLou and The Ville is staggering. The loss of public housing buildings has erased much of the postwar history of struggle and accomplishment. Pruitt-Igoe’s ruins are left as an imperfect marker of a complicated but definitive chapter in the city’s history.

WORTH READING: “Fantastic Pruitt-Igoe Design Workshop: Social Agency Lab and Neighborhood Youth” — an account of a workshop in which Hyde Park youth developed ideas for the Pruitt-Igoe site, written by a young participant.

Abandonment North St. Louis Pruitt Igoe

Pruitt Igoe Now Submissions Due March 16

The start of the new year puts us two and a half months out from the deadline for the Pruitt Igoe Now ideas competition. The competition brief and submission requirements are posted at

The competition takes as its starting point imagined futures that involve the remaining 33 vacant acres of the former Pruitt and Igoe housing projects. Submissions need not be architectural, and need not include a building program for the 33 acres. Essentially, entrants are creating their own programs and geographic boundaries. Pruitt Igoe Now’s organizers hope that submissions consider the larger geographic context of the site as well as the backdrop of land abandonment in the city.

Recent coverage of the competition has come from The Atlantic Cities.

In November, competition co-manager and Preservation Research Office Director Michael R. Allen published an essay on the competition process in Next American City, entitled “What Remains”.