Once an economic and cultural center in the Mississippi River delta region, Pine Bluff is currently one of the fastest shrinking cities in the US. Poverty and crime, as well as heavy flooding, pushed much of its population out of the city over the 20th century, leaving behind a rich building stock of historic houses and brick Main Street buildings. At the same time, much of the city’s periphery continues to thrive, signaling opportunity to reinvigorate Pine Bluff’s downtown area with appropriate housing and public cultural centers. This studio, led by MOS Architects principal Hilary Sample, speculated on the representation and design of collective, shared housing for workers in this historic city. Teams of students selected a site based on opportunity and potential need for housing within its city limits and were challenged to consider new paradigms for living and working as well as shared services such as parking, biking, public and commercial spaces, and landscape.
For this proposal, we pursued an underutilized parking lot adjacent to Pine Bluff High School that currently makes up an entire roughly 300’x300’ block. This multi-use housing project is intended to restore public life and activity through densification and introduction of various programs that promote walkability within the neighborhood and connection among neighbors and the high school.