for more information about this project, please contact:
Melissa Elliott : melissomatic -at- gmail -dot- com
I am a graduate student at University of Virginia studying Landscape Architecture. This is one way of sharing my Thesis project and networking others interested in St. Louis planning and preservation issues.
The immediate goals of this project are to understand the histories of the Pruitt Igoe site and the Arch site, and to begin to draw connections between the two. A larger question that sums up my research goals is, “Whose history matters?”
The Gateway Arch, designated a National Historic Landmark not long after its completion, has become a symbol of the city of St. Louis. But what’s so historic, or symbolic, about a project that required razing 40 blocks? What did those 40 blocks of working riverfront represent, and what does their destruction suggest about the image 20th century St. Louis wanted to convey to the world?
The Pruitt-Igoe homes were built on 57 acres of slums that the city “removed”. The project was a massive failure, constructed, condemned and demolished in under 20 years. For design theorists, Pruitt-Igoe has taken on historic significance as the Death of Modernism, thanks to Charles Jencks’ characterization of it in The Language of Postmodernism. Today, the Pruitt-Igoe site is home to a magnet middle school, but otherwise largely wooded and unmarked.
Who worked on the waterfront? Who lived in the “slums”, or in Pruitt-Igoe? Does their history matter? And how might I, as a designer, become an advocate for it?