“Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination And Segregation Through Physical Design Of The Built Environment.” By Sarah Schindler
In Schindler’s article, “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination And Segregation Through Physical Design Of The Built Environment”, she addressed many issues involving the built environments of various areas throughout the United States. She argues that places are built with the intentions of excluding certain individuals, such as poor people and people of color, from accessing them. She recognizes the numerous instances in which discrimination and segregation factors in architecture and the government allowed it to happen.
In the introduction, Schindler provides an example of such discrimination and segregation that Schindler mentions was in Memphis, Tennessee in 1974. At that time, the white residents requested that a street that connected an all-white neighborhood to a predominantly black on be closed off. The claimed that “it was ostensibly reduce traffic and noise, in addition to promoting safety” (Schindler, 1938). The Supreme Court allowed it. Justice Marshall was quoted in the article saying that by allowing the street to be closed, it possessed a “powerful symbolic message” and that it is just “a white community, disgruntled over sharing a street with Negroes” (Schindler, 1938). It was evident even when there was a blatant problem it still got over looked.
Throughout the remainder of the article, Schindler discusses architectural exclusion in two sections: Theories of Architectural Exclusion and Practice of Architectural Exclusion. In the first of these two sections, “Theory,” Schindler describes the exclusion as a regulatory practice. She mentions the three ways in which exclusion happen. The first is by law, the second is by threating people, and the third is by architecture. The architectural form of exclusion Schindler claims in illegal. She discusses how “cities were constructed in ways- including by erecting physical barriers- that made it very difficult for people from one side of town to access the other side” (Schindler, 1942). An example of this architectural exclusion that act as a form of regulation mentioned in the article is how some park benches have arm rests separating the benches into individual seats. This design is really intended “to prevent people- often the homeless people- from lying down and taking naps” (Schindler, 1942).
The second for part, “Practice,” discusses the many ways that states built and designed their environments to deny access from specific areas of a community. The sub-sections for this part are physical barriers to access and transit. Schindler says, “For example, sidewalks make walking easier and safer, in large part by reducing the risk of pedestrian and vehicle collisions” (Schindler, 1954). Her opinion is that such barriers are approved and brought about in an effort to promote public safety. As a result of these barriers, significant changes have taken place within the communities. In reference to transit, the article discusses the placement of public transit and the stops. For example, some people are against public transit in the nicer and more-developed areas because are believe that it will increase the number of homeless or lower-income people from coming in and out of the areas; thus, increase crime rates.
In conclusion, it was evident that Schindler’s purpose for writing the article was to draw attention to the illegal and unacceptable methods of exclusion that take place. It is unfair that the architecture is planned out in a way that will intentionally exclude certain groups of people- often the black and the homeless.