Cristina Clow

Department of Architecture


Public-private partnerships are becoming an increasingly popular way to create housing in the United States. This financial model aids the developer by providing tax incentives, cheap land, and expedited permitting; meanwhile, the government is relieved of the burden of providing affordable housing. However, these partnerships often result in non-standard or even awkward disparities between residents of mixed-income and social class within any given housing development. Architects working within this framework must negotiate the design of both divisive and collective spaces for market rate and affordable housing tenants. This speculative proposal for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency campus in St. Louis imagines housing as a barrier to a high-security government complex. Dwelling units and community amenities become a permeable wall that mediates relationships between the NGA campus and outside neighborhood as well as between the different groups living within the wall itself. With the looming ghost of modernist Pruitt-Igoe as its foil, PI2.0 abandons the optimism of its predecessors and instead offers a path to slow social change and discomfort. By offering an organization of adjacency and gentle friction rather than forced mixing or outright segregation, the architecture challenges spatial status quos between different racial and socio-economic groups that have grown increasingly antagonistic over decades of disinvestment and suburbanization in the city. The two types of housing along with the two sides of the wall are separate and different, but contain moments of overlap and leakage. By rethinking the siting, circulation, and programming of the modernist housing block, while retaining hallmark elements such as the skip-stop elevator, horizontal window, and efficient structural system, this thesis asks for alternative ways of providing mixed-income housing in the 21st century.

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