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Monday, July 16, 2007

Pruitt-Igoe Demolition as Seen in "Koyaanisqatsi"

Someone has posted a long segment from Godfrey Reggio's 1983 film Koyaanisqatsi that includes the famous aerial footage of the vacant housing project and the explosion-based demolition that took down the entire complex between 1972 and 1974.

The Pruitt-Igoe sequence begins at 2:49.

Thirty-three acres of the originally 57-acre Pruitt-Igoe site at the southeast corner of Cass and Jefferson avenues remain vacant to this day.


LisaS said...

I saw this segment for the first time as a 16 year old and didn't understand the significance ... just enjoyed the explosion in my usual pyro way.

A few years later, I was sitting in a guest lecture during my 1st year of architecture school, listening to a British architectural historian discuss Otto Wagner's Karl-Marx-Hof in great detail. At the end of the lecture, one of the 4th year students asked, "But isn't public housing a dismal failure?"

The lecturer nearly exploded. He laced his answer with a lot of "you Americans" kind of almost attacks, but what he said was basically this:

Architecture can't solve all problems. You can't put everyone who has a reason to have a chip on their shoulder in one building or one area together and expect success.

And indeed, Pruitt-Igoe remains the poster child for the failure of architecture as the sole medium for social reform.

Gobba said...

Here is the site today, just empty space: