Reflections on Towers in the Park, and the Limits of Architecture

Michael Kimmelman, after visiting the Penn South housing cooperative in Manhattan and reflecting on the new film "The Pruitt-Igoe Myth", questions the role that design has in determining success or failure for tower in the park housing type.
January 26, 2012, 12pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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A companion piece in some ways to the story we linked to earlier this week, Kimmelman considers the much maligned housing type that held such promise for providing a high quality-of-life for its residents when built en-masse in the 1950s and 1960s. Not all developments designed following the same Corbusian philosophy as Pruitt-Igoe shared its, now symbolic, fate. And Penn South is just one of Pruitt-Igoe's architectural cousins that thrived.

"Alienating, penitential breeding grounds for vandalism and violence: that became the tower in the park's epitaph. But Penn South, with its stolid redbrick, concrete-slab housing stock, is clearly a safe, successful place. In this case the architecture works. In St. Louis, where the architectural scheme was the same, what killed Pruitt-Igoe was not its bricks and mortar."

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Published on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 in The New York Times
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