Friday, May 06, 2005

Gettin' Dahn in East Liberty

So the big news is the impending destruction of the East Mall Apartment in East Liberty today...

Well, the party for the destruction...

Alright, they're going to shoot paint at it with a giant sling-shot...
Seriously. At 2:30.

Everyone and their mother is going to be there to speak. (My mother and I will be speaking at 6:15, although, sadly, we will not be taking any questions.) Apparently the timing of this event has absolutely nothing to do with the upcoming primary election on the 17th, and that they had originally intended to have this party in June... but here it is. Expect the BS to be laid on pretty thick.

The planned "paint launching" is apparently supposed to be some art project cooked up by some students over at Carnegie Mellon to symbolize the transformation of the neighborhood via the destruction of this building, or some such nonsense. Sounds more like an episode of Double Dare.

If I was the URA, who actually owns the building (apparently much to its dismay), I would be doing the following calculation:

sling-shot + projectile + public space = lawsuit
I'm sure that their lawyers had a fit when they heard about this proposal from the neighborhood and I'm laying odds that someone will get hurt. With regards to Rule #8, there seems to be a damned good reason the URA doesn't want projectiles lobbed at its buildings. I hope someone has insured everyone out their collective butts once the inevitable accident happens.

But anyway, if I was a former resident of East Mall, I'd be pretty pissed that the neighborhood is so delighted in the destruction of my home. I'd be resentful of the community group who is basically deriving schadenfreude from kicking me out of my home. Kinda feels insensitive to me and lacks the solemnity (and drama) of the 1972 destruction of the Pruitt-Igoe Project in St. Louis.

Actually the comparison to the Pruit-Igoe project is fairly apt... APT I SAY!, as both projects followed the ideals and tenet of Le Corbusier's urban planning:
  • Architecture and cities are "machine for living"
  • Reduce congestion of city centers through density: building upwards
  • Room outside of cores provides space for cars with wide avenues and greenspace
  • Class-segregated housing with elite in center and working class on periphery
  • Little concern or explicit planning for people or existing infrastructure
  • Later plans called for giant collective apartment blocks
  • Tear down existing buildings
  • Build high-rise housing and highways
  • Housing blocks as "machines for living" with integrated shops, daycare, services
  • Poured concrete design
  • Inexpensive; amenable to prefabrication
All of this was subsequently rejected or replaced by post-modern architecture. In my opinion, I've always found these types of Modernist projects to be unattractive and uninhabitable.

In the same way as the residents of Pruit-Igoe blew up their homes in 1972, East Liberty is rejecting the urban renewal project of the 1960s which turned its neighborhood into a wasteland.

I still don't think a giant paint-ball sling-shot, however, is the best was to do it.

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