Forty years ago this month the demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe public housing project in St. Louis was completed, marking a seminal moment in the history of modern architecture and planning. The grandiose idea of large-scale urban renewal using superblocks and towers surrounded by undefined space mostly died with Pruitt-Igoe — and Jane Jacobs was vindicated. Pruitt-Igoe's land stands mostly empty to this day, and a Notre Dame graduate student — now recent alumnus Samuel Lima — came up with a thesis plan for 33 acres of the 57-acre site (see rendering above). The plan beautifully resolves the city's shifting grid, bringing streets together in a central, triangular park. Compact development with architecture inspired by the city vernacular takes the place of uniform high-rises. Although this plan is not an official one, urban planning has come a long way since 1972.
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