Minoru Yamasaki had an improbably benighted career. He was, of course, the architect of the World Trade Center, benightment enough for anyone. He was also the architect of the infamous Pruitt–Igoe public housing project, opened between 1954 and 1956 in St. Louis. Much revisionist history of recent years treats with nostalgia the utopian ideals of public housing, and seeks to show either that many projects were more successful than generally thought, or that the failures of certain projects were caused by bureaucratic ineptitude or racism or other factors. Nonetheless, the prevailing view holds with such critics as Jane Jacobs that the projects were a dismal wrong turn in urban policy, and that much of what was wrong about them was inherent in the ideals and theories and half-baked (or unbaked) modernist presumptions that prompted the whole misguided operation in the first place. The truth may well be halfway...


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