SOVIET HOUSING INVADES EAST LIBERTY - An Architectural Critique Of Walnut Capital's Bakery Living

If your head thinks it would be cool to live in East Liberty and your heart wants to feel what it was like to live in Soviet-controlled East Germany, then Bakery Living is the place for you...

Although the first Bakery Living apartment building is presently visible from the street (Penn Avenue), when the development is complete the building will be hidden behind two multi-story office structures

Because the street that leads to the building from Penn dead ends at the back of the Ellis School campus, the housing block will always be isolated from the surrounding neighborhood

Wikipedia defines the term housing block as "Panelház (Short: Panel) is a Hungarian term for a type of concrete block of flats (panel buildings), built in the People's Republic of Hungary and other Eastern Bloc countries. It was the main urban housing type in the Socialist-era, which still dominates the Hungarian cityscape."

Notice the bland Soviet housing block facades dressed up with vertical colored stripes

Now take a closer look at the Bakery Living building

It's absurd to believe the similarity between the typical Soviet housing block and the Bakery Living building is accidental. The architecture firm that designed the East Liberty apartment building is very competent and knowledgeable about architectural history and the meaning of architectural styles.

Being aware for some time of the Soviet-style exterior of the Bakery Living block, I recently had an opportunity to see the building from the inside. It was a quick visit but my experience was profound and disturbing.

Imagine you're in a luxury freight elevator. The elevator takes you to an upper floor and the doors open. You turn, walk a few feet and suddenly you're in the Fort Pitt Tunnel, only instead of cars whizzing by and sunlight at each end there are a seemingly infinite number of doors and blank walls at each end

To get a better sense of the insane length of the main upper floor hallway at Bakery Living, think of the some of hallways in The Shining and then multiply by ten

I had a chance to see a one bedroom unit and a two bedroom unit at the new East LIberty housing block. I understand that the trend in residential design lately is to make the kitchen more open to the rest of the living area. Bakery Living takes this trend to its ultimate conclusion by doing nothing other than making a room with some appliances and cabinets and counter space on the wall nearest the entry

Upgrading to the "2 Bedroom 1" unit has the added benefit of enhancing the Fort Pitt Tunnel effect of the hallway by recreating it in the kitchen and living space

Some of the promotional videos and renderings for the units show store-bought block islands in the cooking area which helps give the "kitchen" area some minimal spatial definition. If you decide to rent the one bedroom then you're most likely shit out of luck with the island option because the door to the unit is like two feet away from the appliance and cabinet wall

The micro units at Bakery Living are designed well enough to barely allow for a block island in the cooking area, but their real significance is the way they reinforce the centrally planned theme of the building. Studio apartments have been around forever, but micro apartments are a relatively new invention. Like Microsoft, the name microapartment sounds innocuous, but if you research their origin you'll find that they're part of the same U.N. Agenda 21 program that also gave birth to the policy of giving cities money from the federal government to build "transit-oriented developments" which are designed to get people to live in dense, heavily surveilled urban environments like East Liberty with cameras on every street corner

See you in East Liberty, Comrades...