‘Pruitt-Igoe Myth’ documentary, talk to be held Oct. 25

Oct 24, 2022 | Design, General News, Liberal Arts, Students

Pruitt-Igoe opened in 1954 as a housing marvel in St. Louis, billed as the solution to the overcrowding and deterioration that plagued the inner city.

It was leveled less than 20 years later, and the conclusions drawn from its lessons were most likely blurred with time.

Producer/director Chad Freidrichs, who visits Louisiana Tech’s campus Tuesday, Oct. 25, wants to set the record straight and offer clarity and logic concerning the Pruitt-Igoe experiment. The public is invited to hear his talk and view his documentary, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, in GTM 105 at 6:30 p.m.

The College of Liberal Arts and The Waggonner Center are sponsoring the event.

The 33 11-story buildings quickly became drug- and crime-infested. The video of the complex that Americans remember best is one that shows the implosion of one of the buildings, an illustration of what most of Americas came to think of the entire experiment.

Freidrichs hopes the documentary will inform and enhance the ongoing debate over public housing and government welfare programs, as well as illustrate how conclusions are dangerously and erroneously drawn when powerful interests control debate.

The film uses Pruitt-Igoe as a lens through which a larger story about affordable housing and the changing American city can be viewed. It untangles the various arguments about what went wrong in Pruitt-Igoe and dispels the over-simplifications and stereotypes that turned Pruitt-Igoe into a symbol of failure.

“It’s time to get the facts straight and present he Pruitt-Igoe story in a way that will implode the myths and the stigma,” Freidrichs said. “Pruitt-Igoe needs to be remembered and understood in a different way that it has been. The city will change again, and affordable housing will continue to be an issue. When that happens, the complex lessons of Pruitt-Igoe must be remembered by society and by the architects, developers, and public officials we will task with solving future housing issues.

“This is why Pruitt-Igoe matters – why we made this documentary. So much of our collective understanding of cities and government and inequality are tied up in these 33 high-rise buildings, informed by the demolition image. Too much of the context has been overlooked, or willfully ignored, in discussions of public housing, public welfare, and the state of the American city.”

Visit for more information on the documentary.