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Pruitt-Igoe, “Going Solo” and going with the flow

14 Feb

There’s no direct reference during the film to a specific myth, but when it comes to public housing, there are plenty to choose from: Who lives there and why, what it’s like to live there, what the residents need, how much design matters, what the role of public housing is in cities, whether its failures are built in, whether it can ever be done right.

Something that immediately stands out in aerial photos and site models of Pruitt-Igoe is the degree of “overdimensioning”. Everything is so big and so far apart that it’s out of scale with what humans can see and interact with, which contributes to a sense of isolation, even with thousands of other people around.

  • One of the demographic trends to surface in the 2010 census was the historic increase in the number of people living alone, especially in major cities. According to census data, 44  percent of households in the city of Atlanta now consist of someone living alone. That’s well above the national rate of 28 percent, which is seven times what it was 60 years ago. Eric Klinenberg, an NYU sociologist took a look at the causes and effects of living in a country where more and more people are – by choice or circumstance – living on their own. He talked about his book “Going Solo” on last Monday’s Diane Rheme show. If you don’t have time to listen to the whole show, Klinenberg has also written for  and been written about in the New York Times in the last couple of weeks.  His opinion piece has some infographics and an interactive map for demographic and geographic comparisons of who’s living alone and where.
  • The words “traffic planning” probably bring to mind a preoccupation with quick, efficient movement of cars, but as more people move into cities, and car use in cities declines, the science of managing pedestrian traffic is becoming more important. Two Zurich-based physicists are working on models to help architects and planners predict and guide pedestrian traffic in the most crowded places.
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