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Soviet-Style Architecture Students Visit 1920 Commons for Inspiration


Photos by Chase Sutton / The Daily Pennsylvanian and Liftarn / CC0

Creative! Students of Soviet-style architecture trekked to 1920 Commons last Saturday to gain insight into the finer points of socialist construction and design.

The small class of 13 students took an in-depth tour of the glorified cafeteria to observe uncaring, brutalist conformity in its most distilled form.

“When I look at the front of Commons, I am struck with an indescribable feeling,” Zoe Tocquesville ( C'22) said, grasping at the air in front of her. “It’s almost as if … I can hear … the laborers of the world … calling out to me…”

The building’s drab interior, which reportedly conjured up memories of cold winter mornings in Petrograd, elicited a strong reaction from College sophomore James Patson.

“Jesus Christ, is that a plainclothes cop standing behind that pillar over there? Or am I seeing things?” Patson sputtered frantically. “Please, officer, listen to me, you’ve got the wrong guy! Do I look like Gorbachev to you? Holy shit, I’ve gotta get outta here!”

Following a dismal three-hour tour of Commons, the traumatized group of students left with fresh ideas, a new perspective on the Constructivist architecture movement, and a renewed sense of social duty to their fellow comrades.

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” Linda Garrosh (C ‘22) said bleakly as she exited the building.

“You know what? Commons is so much more than a dilapidated, miserable-looking, grey monolith,” Tocquesville said, a tear rolling down her face. “It’s a dilapidated, miserable-looking, grey monolith that sucks all of the hope and happiness out of anyone who walks past it.”