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Aluminum City Terrace is one of those wonderful Pittsburgh surprises that make living here so interesting. It’s an unusual neighborhood, commissioned and created in the early 1940s as a defense housing project funded by the U.S. government. These 250 units, built in a somewhat remote corner of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, were designed by world-famous architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, both from the Bauhaus School of Design in Germany.

In August 1941, TIME magazine reported “Gropius and Breuer got the assignment this month, spent 36 hours of uninterrupted frenzy at the drafting board. Their 250 family units are uncrowded, fresh in design, improved and begadgeted like many a more expensive house.”

They created simple, modern houses, grouped in thirty-five multi-unit structures situated on a sloping hillside, taking advantage of southern exposure, sharing grassy lawns, and maintaining a bit of privacy with walled-in porches.

After the war, a group of satisfied tenants got together and formed a cooperative in order to purchase the “Terrace” from the government, and in 1948, the experiment in wartime housing became a co-op. Since then, the management of the neighborhood has been overseen by a board of directors, all residents, who meet monthly to take care of all necessary business and upkeep of the buildings. Amazingly low monthly co-op fees now cover the costs of gas, water, sewer, garbage collection, cable TV and basic maintenance, making the units here very popular and inexpensive places to live.

Click on the button to hear what some residents have to say about the history of Aluminum City Terrace.


Find out more about Walter Gropius here
. . . and here.

Learn more about the Bauhaus School.

See some of Marcel Breuer’s works (including the famous Wassily chair) here
. . . and here
. . .here.

See a slide show of old photographs of Aluminum City.

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