In Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment, Schindler analyzes and suggests against built environments in which “…man-made physical features that make it difficult for certain individuals—often poor people and people of color—to access certain places (abstract).”
History of exclusion by design dates back many decades and includes measures such as physical barriers and violence to successfully exclude a group of people, typically of color or socioeconomic status. The city of Memphis Tennessee is a primal example of this in which, by request of white citizens, a road that connected an all white neighborhood to a dominantly black neighborhood was shut down on account of traffic and noise. Though the change was made on the grounds of other reasoning, Justice Marshall could not fathom how the courts failed to acknowledge racial exclusion as a result of their decision.
Legal scholars fail to find issues with architectural exclusion and therefore do not regulate design as they do other forms of exclusion such as zoning ordinances that are racially prohibiting. They comprehend the importance of architecture, however they do not view design as a regulatory tool.
Each design decision effects the way residents and visitors experience a city. What may be observed as a normal feature of a city, can be in reality an element of architectural exclusion. Schindler uses an example of a three seated park bench. A mere passerby will perceive the three seats of this bench as an aesthetic choice, however, the seats are used to restrict homeless people from sleeping on that bench in that area.
Legal scholars write not of architecture as regulation but of the context of class and race in the context of many man made environmental aspects. An example of this is Lior Jacob Strahilevitz’s writing, Exclusionary Amenities in Residential Communities, that explores residential communities that are exclusionary to a particular socioeconomic group. Fischel’s Homevoter Hypothesis extends residential exclusion to include voting patterns of those living in the exclusive residential areas and how voters are “more likely to vote in ways that will protect their property investment (introduction, paragraph 2).” Scholars proposed the idea of spaces having a racial identity, and how authority of a given space has the power to decide who and who does not belong there. The built environment is a tool of exclusion by discriminating people of a particular class, race, or ability. Elise C. Boddie believes law overlooks racial identity of a space. Although law and regulations produce the same exclusionary results, they are not analyzed or policed the same. Schindler claims law and regulations “should be subject to scrutiny that is equal to that afforded to other methods of exclusion by law (part 1, area B).”
The built environment excluded people through means of physical movement and granting access. Lack of directional signs in an area confuse non-residents, resulting in a decrease in tourism or possibly criminals due to confusion regarding navigation. James Loewen analyzes “…architectural exclusion in some towns where sidewalks and bike paths are rare and do not connect to those in other communities inhabited by residents of lower social status (Part 2, Section A).” Another blatant form of exclusion are gated communities that are exclusive to wealthy residents. These examples among many others are put in place on the grounds of public health and safety, however the results are catastrophic in terms of exclusion.
Transportation plays a vital role in the built environment. Placement of transit stops, highway routes, road infrastructure, bridge exits, one way streets, parking permits, and confusion tactics, are all common examples of exclusion by transit.