Running Head: WHAT IS THE MYTH OF PRUITT-IGOE?
What is the Myth of Pruitt-Igoe?
WHAT IS THE MYTH OF PRUITT-IGOE?
WHAT IS THE MYTH OF PRUITT-IGOE? BE SURE TO INCLUDE A DISCUSSION
OF STRUCTURAL RACISM/POVERTY IN YOUR ANSWER.
Since its demise, the Pruitt-Igoe public housing project has attracted a lot of attention and
has been recognized as a national and international symbol of architectural failure. This project
has been associated with the failure of high modernism and high inadequacy to offer livable
environments to the poor people in the country. The relationship between the demolition of the
project and the failure of modern architecture constitutes the fundamental factor of the PruittIgoe myth (Baldwin, 2013). In relation to this project, this paper will demystify the various
myths that are associated with the Pruitt-Igoe project with a touch of structural racism
Pruitt-Igoe attained an iconic significance following the trial demolition of three of its
building in 1972. This RELEVhas been gained by virtue of its continuous use and reuses as a
significant symbol in architecture. Discussions illustrate a virtual unanimity that the demise of
the project is a demonstration of architectural failure. After Charles Jencks announced that the
demolition illustrated the death of modern architecture in1977, he invoked an interpretation of
Prutt-Igoe in many people who have gained widespread acceptance today. Any person who is
aware of the American architecture related the project with the failure of High Modernism and
inability to provide a conducive and healthy environment for the poor. This explanation of the
Prutt-Igoe project is a myth, and the core of the myth is the idea that architectural design adopted
was responsible for the demise of the project. The myth surrounding the project was created and
WHAT IS THE MYTH OF PRUITT-IGOE?
disseminated by national press, architects and architecture critics. However, success retelling of
this story has brought about new dimensions to the myth (Birmingham, 1999)
Since its inception, Prutt-Igoe was exclusively a black project. Its quality was affected by
budget and political constraints which affected its final design. This caused the elimination of
amenities, landscaping, children's play areas, and ground-floor bathrooms with the aim of cutting
costs. Quality of hardware was poor, locks and doorknobs were broken on initial use, and
windowpanes were blown by wind pressure due to inadequate framing system. In addition, the
kitchen cabinets were made from thin plywood which lost its aesthetic value. Although the
tenants seemed pleased by the new housing, it was made of relatively cheap materials which
were of poor quality. St. Louis housing officials argued that although they were of poor quality,
the project represented a higher level of amenities than the poorly maintained and dilapidated
units the black community has vacated. This is a representation of structural racism and an
example of mistreatment towards the African-Americans which was common during this period
in the United States. While blacks were forced to rent basic city services in the project, white
working class citizens segregated themselves into suburbs which had been made affordable by
the 1949 Housing Act (Bristol, 1991).
The failure of this project is an explicit explanation of the infiltration of racism on
institutional and social...