Sarah Schindler is determined to inform and evaluate the idea of architectural regulation of urban areas in her article, “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation through Physical Design of the Built Environment.” She describes architectural regulation as an unrecognizable threat to socioeconomic and racial exclusions from certain areas. She explores how this idea is overlooked by lawmakers and the courts. In the process of explanation, she also provides excellent examples. As stated by Schindler, “Exclusion through architecture should be subject to scrutiny that is equal to that afforded to other methods of exclusion by law.”
Her main reason for why lawmakers aren’t discontinuing this issue is because they fail to see the effect of many architectural elements in city projects. Although, not all legal scholars are blind to this issue, they misinterpret it as a metaphor to build on the idea of hidden regulatory systems. Schindler; however, insist that it isn’t just a metaphor; but, in actuality, a real regulation as well. According to Schindler, regulation through architecture is powerful but is also less indefinable, making it harder for legislators and common people to roar for a change. Most architectural things about places are seen as
An example she describes is a physical barrier like fence or bridge. She discusses how a ten-foot high, 1,500 feet long fence separates the suburb of Hamden, Connecticut and the housing projects in New Haven. The divider makes it difficult for people living in the projects to have access to the outside community. A trip to the grocery store made housing residents “…have to travel into New Haven to get around the fence, a 7.7-mile trip that takes two buses and up to two hours to complete.” The common reason for construction of the fence was primarily to keep violence out however, the underlying intention was to keep undesired people, like poor citizens or people of color, from having access to the surrounding city.
Another example is the placement of public transportation. She reminds us that most low income citizens rely heavily on public transportation whereas wealthier citizens have private automobiles. Some places like the mall refuse to have transit stops because they don’t want a certain kind of people having access to that location. Therefore, the only people being denied access are the lower socioeconomic class. She also brings up the point that this issue can have a larger impact because then it makes it problematic for those people to have jobs in those areas. This would mean that employers would have to pay a higher wage because citizens of that community are not likely to accept a job with minimum wage as a low income citizen would. She even states that even if the lower- income citizen did have a car, some communities require a parking permit. If that person did not live there or didn’t know a friend who could offer a guest pass, they would be out of luck; making their trip even more hectic.
Schindler continues to say that legal decision makers can’t recognize this problem and address it. They are too busy paying attention to what the courts consider to be physical exclusion instead of conducting their own research. This isn’t to say that they are totally blind to the idea. They have shut down or put limitations on cities’ attempts to practice racial zoning, exclusionary zoning, and racially restrictive covenants. However, architecture is unlikely to be seen as a way to keep someone out because it isn’t as obvious as a law. To a common pedestrian, the different features about a place is just that; a feature.
In conclusion, Schindler offers solutions that can be made in the judicial process however; doesn’t believe it will do much good. She mostly recommends “forcing reformation of certain existing discriminatory infrastructure…” in the legislative process.
To anybody else this will just seem like a regular bench, however that person is sadly mistaken. What if the designer made it this way so that a homeless person couldn’t sleep comfortably on it? What if it was only to limit how many people could sit on the bench? These are the types of questions that won’t be asked by a regular pedestrian.
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. 26 Dec. 2016.