In “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination And Segregation Through Physical Design Of The Built Environment” Sarah Schindler, discusses the usually overlooked existence of exclusion in architecture. People view other people as the excluders and fail to give attention to the means of how people actually do the excluding. Architecture may not be commonly viewed as a means of excluding people, but because the built environment does create constraints, it is a form of regulation. Architects enter spaces with a plan, one that shapes the environment and the behavior of the inhabitants of that environment (rather than architects entering a space and creating a plan to fit the behavior of the inhabitants). Architects and planners become the regulators and the built environment becomes their means of regulation. It seems almost common sense to think that cities are designed with the people in mind. However, architects often pass over the needs of the people in favor of focusing on the engineering aspect. It could also be said that the focus of architects is simply on delivering what is planned, or creating something ascetically pleasing. Architecture has a purpose and that purpose can be geared towards a specific group of people and, in that way, it may exclude other groups of people. Schindler points out how even the placement of architecture plays a hand in exclusion, as the placement (or the absence) of something can act as a way of exclusion. For example, planners or architects will build sidewalks where they want citizens to walk, and there will not be sidewalks where the architects do not want citizens to walk.
Another example of architectural exclusion, as mentioned by Schindler, “Robert Moses’s Long Island bridges … which were designed to hang low so that the twelve-foot tall buses in use at the time could not fit under them.” This architectural exclusion, while similar to the exclusion in the previous example, is meant to purposely exclude a certain group of people. Moses’s plan was to make it nearly impossible for anyone on a bus to enter Long Island. Schindler infers that because, at the time, people of the lower class and people of color were the ones to ride buses, they were the group facing the architectural exclusion. While a seemingly harsh way of manipulating the built environment, the Long Island bridges are not the only pieces of architecture used to exclude minorities. Boundaries were often created to separate people and ensure lines were not crossed. This blatant physical exclusion reveals the issues rooted in society.
Laws and architecture can both be used to ostracize people. Laws that give cities and people the power to build environments protect the structures that are meant to keep certain people out. These laws and structures are constraints on society, created by society. Individuals that do not hold power (most often the majority) are helpless to the affect the created laws and architecture have on their life. The everyday use of many architectural structures by people can be viewed as a reason for the great influence architectural exclusion may have on a person’s life and behavior. By erecting objects of stone and steel to create obstacles for groups, society ensures regulations are followed. The people in control find ways to maintain their control through the built environment.