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Dismantling the Myths of Pruitt-Igoe

A new documentary aims to challenge the existing narrative surrounding the birth, life, and death of the Pruitt-Igoe public housing development.
January 24, 2012, 8am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Dante A. Ciampaglia writes about, perhaps, the country's most infamous public housing project, located in St. Louis, whose demolition in 1972 is memorialized as the death of Corbusian modernism, and is the subject of a new documentary by director Chad Freidrichs.

In challenging the accepted history of the project, Ciampaglia writes that director Freidrichs, "..makes a compelling case. Drawing heavily on archival footage, raw data, and historical reanalysis, the film reorients Pruitt-Igoe as the victim of institutional racism and post-war population changes in industrial cities, among other issues far more complex than poor people not appreciating nice things."

While successful as an effort in "cultural preservation," Ciampaglia questions whether the film does enough to change the narrative concerning Pruitt-Igoe's place in the history of urban design.

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Published on Friday, January 20, 2012 in Architectural Record
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