The article “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination And Segregation Through Physical Design Of The Built Environment,” by Sarah Schindler, is about the various ways architecture was utilized in order to promote discrimination and segregation. The general ideas of the article are the theory behind architectural exclusion, the practice of it, and the failure of legal scholars to recognize it.  The practice of architectural exclusion is also broken down to provide various examples in different places across the country.

Sarah Schindler talks about how people tasked with recognizing and dealing with discrimination did not recognize it when it concerns urban design. (1939) Schindler repeatedly points out how legal scholars pointed their attention to combating discrimination and segregation when other laws and social norms promoted it. (1942) She also highlights how legal scholars did not as actively try to prevent architectural exclusion. This is due to its less explicit nature, which caused legal scholars to overlook it. Schindler attributes this inattentiveness to people thinking that the features of an area are simply there because they were designed this way. (1942) They did not realize that features such as “street grid design, one-way streets,” and the “absence of sidewalks and crosswalks,” (1942) would contribute to them being segregated. Architectural designs like the ones mentioned served to promote discrimination and segregation, because they are used to separate colored and poor people from the more wealthy residents. In this way, discrimination and segregation were allowed to exist under the eyes of people looking to rid the country of it.

Indeed, discrimination and segregation hides behind the mask of efficiency and furthering the public interest when it concerns architectural exclusion. The theory behind architectural exclusion is to steer the interactions between the residents of various neighborhoods and parts of the cities. When developers are designing cities and neighborhoods, the people think that they are designing them to help in things such as more efficient routes to places and other such things. The developers themselves may have the good of the public interest at heart, but they actually result in perpetuating the social norms of discrimination and segregation. Not much attention is given to the racial meaning of certain spaces. Spaces that have a racial history can also perpetuate the norms of discrimination and segregation. Even though officials recognize that architecture can promote discrimination and segregation, they do not give it as much importance as a law that was intended to discriminate.

The actual practice of architectural exclusion prevents certain groups of people from interacting with other groups of people. For example, physical barriers would be placed to separate the poor neighborhoods from the rich neighborhoods. Decisions, such as making low bridges to prevent buses from accessing certain areas, and not building public transit stations near suburbs, were made to uphold the status quo. Other ways that architectural exclusion is practiced is through the absence of sidewalks and crosswalks, which makes traversing through certain neighborhoods difficult. Many poor neighborhoods are destroyed by the city building highways through them. This is done with the intent to give easier access to certain places, but also to get rid of slums and ghettos.

In conclusion, a variety of discrete tactics are utilized in order to discriminate and segregate undesirable groups of people. The tactics that are used are able to avoid being banned by law. Many of these tactics are hidden under the guise of furthering the public interest.


SCHINDLER, SARAH. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination And Segregation Through Physical Design Of The Built Environment.” Yale Law Journal 124.6 (2015): 1934-2024, pp. 1934-1972. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.