Those who visit the site of Pruitt-Igoe today do so in search of remnants, for surely its catastrophic destruction, heralding “the end of Modern Architecture,” would leave traces. Perhaps, on the other hand, these people are really in search of a catharsis.
Catharsis – (noun) 1.elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression. (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)
There can be no true catharsis without an expression of the original complex. P.I. Park (Pruitt-Igoe Park) expresses the mythology of Pruitt-Igoe by reanimating it in the form of a ruin. Activity areas and trees are placed in their originally planned locations and curvilinear paved walkways flow through large hills, mimicking the curvilinear geometries of the original Pruitt-Igoe scheme. Large embankments of earth rise up to partially cover reconstructed ruins of the original Pruitt-Igoe buildings. These embankments simulate years of geological accumulation and conceptually represent the accretion of myths that have formed the allegorical notion of Pruitt-Igoe’s failure as a symptom of Modern design and its destruction as the end of Modern Architecture.
The “reconstructed ruins” of the original apartment buildings are found throughout P.I. Park. These remnants may not be occupied - they are unobtainable remnants of Pruitt-Igoe, offering visitors and young architect pilgrims a means of experiencing a catharsis. The “remnants” offer both proof of existence and expression of mythological artifacts by representing them as aged ruins. They are not constructed of their original materials, but are abstract reflections of their original counterparts, made of only steel and concrete. In addition to serving as vertical gardens, these large sculptural objects act as projector screens for outdoor films and other projectable media.
P.I. Park provides the surrounding community with a community center and activity areas including playgrounds, barbecue areas, and climbing walls- all amenities intended for the original Pruitt-Igoe development, but never constructed due to lack of finances. The new P.I. Park will take on the life and purpose that the original Pruitt-Igoe development was denied, while offering a traumatized community of architects a kind of reconciliation through the reification and recreation of a metaphysical ruin.
Status: Competition Entry
Location: St. Louis
My Role: Project Designer