I’ve actually screened the Pruitt-Igoe film now, and I can vouch that it’s a great look at the failure of best intended efforts to improve housing in the urban core. And there are definitely some ties to our own history. I’ll be following the documentary with a 30-minuite conversation with James Williams, a designer/developer active in the JFK neighborhood just east of downtown Oklahoma City – a neighborhood very different from the one in which he was born.
And then there’s Leonard Bentin, former head of Urban League who has a story of how the local black community reacted the prospect of a Pruitt-Igoe development being built in Oklahoma City.
Here’s more about the film – I hope I see you tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art!
Saturday, June 23, 5:30pm
The Pruitt-Igoe Myth
It began as a housing marvel. Built in 1956, Pruitt-Igoe was heralded as the model public housing project of the future, “the poor man’s penthouse.” Two decades later, it ended in rubble – its razing an iconic event that the architectural theorist Charles Jencks famously called “the death of modernism.” The footage and images of its implosion have helped to perpetuate a myth of failure, a failure that has been used to critique Modernist architecture, attack public assistance programs, and stigmatize public housing residents. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth seeks to set the historical record straight: to examine the interests involved in Pruitt-Igoe’s creation, to re-evaluate the rumors and the stigma, to implode the myth. Director: Chad Freidrichs 2011 USA 83min. NR digital