Privatopolis: 2012 Sauget Shrinking Cities Studio

The Spring 2012 shrinking cities studio examined the "privatopolis" of SAUGET, ILLINOIS. Directly across the Mississippi River from Eero Saarinen's St. Louis Arch, Sauget embodies the multiple paradoxes of American urbanism: a municipality with only 300 people, ruled and mostly owned by a single family - the Saugets- made wealthy by housing St. Louis's unwanted uses and activities, from recycling plants to nightclubs, and adjoining Illinois's poorest city, East St. Louis, whose population has dropped from 80,000 to 30,000 since 1950.

PRIVATOPOLIS examines, interrogates, and responds to the paradoxical urbanism of Sauget through the development of reuse scenarios for four parcels of post-industrial land formerly housing a petroleum refinery and storage tanks. Ordinarily considered a 'brownfield', these parcels are perversely valuable to Sauget given the town's role as a collector of the unwanted. In Sauget, the ordinary is forbidden and the extreme is welcomed, setting new boundaries and challenges for urban design.


MIT Shrinking Cities Urban Design Studio