Thursday, January 13, 2011

The death of Modern Architecture(?)

Is Modern architecture dead?

Pratik Mhatre (Urban Planning Blog) posted the trailer for the documentary film "The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: an Urban History" . Here is the Trailler (and the documentary official website):
I didn't know of the existence of Pruitt–Igoe until this post. And now, thanks to wikipedia, I know that Pruitt–Igoe
  • "was a large urban housing project first occupied in 1954 and completed in 1955 in the U.S. city of St. Louis, Missouri".
  • "The complex was designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed the World Trade Center towers."
  • Furthermore, "The Pruitt–Igoe housing project was one of the first demolitions of modernist architecture and its destruction was claimed by postmodern architectural historian Charles Jencks to mark 'the day Modern architecture died'."

One particular point caught my attention: Pruitt–Igoe's collapse seems to be attributed exclusively to its modernist architecture. Isn't a too simplistic statement? Brasilia (a remarkable urban experiment) is doing fine so far (?is it?).

What could help us understand the different fates (failure and success) faced by modernist urban planning experiences ? [urban scale? capita income, and other sociodemographic characteristics?....]

These are some photos of Pruitt–Igoe back then.
[photo credit: Legmountain]

[photo credit: Wikipedia]

[photo credit: Wikipedia]

a few photos of Brasilia :

[photo credit: designKULTUR]

[photo credit: Prof. Frederico Holanda]

[photo credit:]


Cleandro said...

Hi! As far as I know from my Architecture student years, Pruitt-Igoe was not demolished for its architecture style, but because social problems were so hard there that the only "solution" planners could conceive was to get the thing razed to the ground. So, it is surprising that some years later, in Toronto, a housing estate with similar (I believe) problems would not be demolished but instead be revitalized. See

Urban Demographics said...

You are right, Cleandro. And my point is that it is too simplistic to reduce Pruitt–Igoe's collapse to its modernist architecture.

ps. I like the way Pruitt–Igoe was described in the movie: from ‘oasis in the desert’ to 'hell on earth’.