Summary “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment. “

Sarah Schindler, an Associate Professor, at University of Maine School of Law examines how “monumental structures of concrete and steel embody a systematic social inequality”. Physical attributes of cities such as park benches with  divided seats are avenue to prevent the homeless from laying down. These structures implement a normalcy to the increasing issue of excluding the homeless within the American society.

In urban cities the exclusion created by the built environment is more prevalent. Planners are aware that some structures are built to benefit some while leaving others disadvantaged. Some planners neglect to consideration all who live in urban environment due to the Nicholas Blomley’s term “traffic logic- the idea that planners and civil engineers prioritize the flow of pedestrians and traffic through a physical space, with a focus on civil engineering, rather than prioritizing equal access to a physical space for all, with a focus civil rights.” The ideology by behind this type of development of cities, render a breeding ground for the environmental exclusion. Many times the ones left disadvantaged are the poor and minorities. When discussing the built environment from a scholarship lens, the topic is usually generalized and only stated with surface information. Lessig only discusses two neighborhoods limits the extent to which the neighborhoods integrate. Too often the scholarship community refer to the build in environment as high technology (lee tien) and a metaphoric in justice (Susan strum).  These terms are used to gloss over the social exclusion of the built environment but not look at build environment as the problem its self. Some legal scholars confront the issued surrounding the built environment. The ideas of exclusionary amenities, allows for developers to created residential areas that only appeal to individuals of specific social economic class. This in directed permits the developer excludes for people of people of color in the specific area.

Communities also design their transit systems to exclude people in the built environment. In places of northern metro Atlanta affluent suburbs wont allow the MARTA to be present in the communities so that undesirable people aren’t able to penetrate this area. People of low income and of color usually have a more difficult time because they are more dependent of public transportation than others. Transits development is many time strategically placed inconspicuously to keep people away such examples like highways. These highways create almost impossible avenues to walk across to reach more influential places.  Unfortunately, many like Cynthia Wiggins- a seventeen-year-old hit on her way to work at a suburban mall are left victim to this type of architecture. Additionally, Sidewalks cross walks are made difficult to cross sometimes intentionally to exclude certain individuals from entering into these neighborhoods. Walled ghettos are a simple way to create this division like The eight mile wall in Detroit. In other places like the pubic housing communities in New Heaven the elimination wall did not fall until May of 2014, but the effects are this physical separation are still felt today with the ghetto still isolated by the social economic status of the surrounding communities.

The exclusion on the built environment will continue to be felt until reform can be brought to the way the built environment is developed.


SCHINDLER, SARAH. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination And Segregation Through Physical Design Of The Built Environment.” Yale Law Journal 124.6 (2015): 1934-2024. Academic Search Complete. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.

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