Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment

In “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment” Sarah Schindler claims how Atlanta’s Metropolitian area is Architectural excluded from the higher class people  in northern Atlanta. Higher class citizens typically whites have found a system in which to keep the poor and colored people excluded from their neighborhoods and locations. According to Sarah Schindler architectures designed different structures in order to keep the lower class from entering their neighborhood such as lowering bridges so buses could not  pass under them in order to prevent people of color from accessing a public beach. In the article it also discusses a man named Robert Moss also known as “the master builder”. During his time he was appointed to multiple state and local offices he designed most of New York City framework. His design system prevented the lower class who relied on public transportation could not depart on the public beaches.

According to the article in 1974 the city of Memphis closed off a street that connected all-white neighborhood to a primarily black-one. The supporters claimed that the decision was made to reduce traffic, noise and also prompting safety. The article goes on to state that  the U.S Supreme court got involved when a citizen challenged the action, but the Court dismissed the case because they believed the it’s was a “Routine burden” stated In the article. The community believed that it was sending a symbolic message to the lower class acting as if the white community is taking legal matters to keep African Americans off the street. The law makers and enforcers failed to see the fault of the architectural exclusion although it is challenging to present necessary intent to discriminate because it is discrimination through an environment they’re talking about and not physical, or verbal discrimination.

Part I highlights two main points: Regulating Architecture and Legal Scholarship. The way environments are built, it controls and regulates our behavior. The topic of exclusion wasn’t discussed, but architects typically favor certain groups over other groups. They make certain infrastructure ideas, but usually don’t take the citizens into consideration. In terms of Legal Scholarship it hasn’t been as discussed as much as regulation. For an example, developers for houses can pick and choose who they want to buy the house. They usually turn away poor and blacks. Not only does this just happen with residents but with other places built throughout the city. According to legal academics places can be racially identified. Certain places only certain races go and if a person outside the race enters it’s awkward. So, we identify certain places. Part II highlights two main points as well: Physical Barriers to Access and Transit. States and municipalities have created different methods to keep ‘certain’ people out usually poor and blacks. For an example, Robert Moses’ created these lower bridges that would keep city buses out. It was unable to fit under the bridge meaning whoever was on the bus usually couldn’t access the other side. He admitted himself that he was prejudice and wanted to keep low income minorities out. He couldn’t just make a law saying they couldn’t enter so he took advantage of architecture. In certain places there’s no sidewalks, street crossings, or other safety precautions. In a couple of cities actual walls have been built to separate two different groups of people. Transit is how a majority of people get from place to place. But the transit stops are only in certain places and aren’t place in certain areas at all. Marta is super popular but don’t access certain parts as well. It’s unfair because mostly blacks and poor people can’t get to their designated destination. It’s plenty of other transportation discrimination and segregation, but those are the most important.

Sarah Schindler writes an eye opener and everyone needs to pay attention! Discrimination and segregation is happening right under our noses. It’s not shouting at us, but it’s discreet and if we just pay attention we would realize how the government and architecture is regulating us and separating us. Hopefully one day we all come together and equally be treated the same.




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