Schindler’s “Architectural Exclusion” – A Reflection

Schindler’s work on the theory and real life practices of architectural reflection left me bothered, not by her work but by the realization of the world around us. I am thankful for reading her work because it opened my eyes to the overwhelming discrimination and subjugation that many people were already facing. Coming into this reading I have the viewpoint of a 21-year-old black man I am already forced to see everything with my eyes painfully open. Having to be aware of certain hypocrisies and prejudices are second nature to many people of color, and I, as most of us have, had adapted a way of taking everything with a grain of salt. So after reading about architectural exclusion in the work provided by Sarah Schindler I feel even more overwhelmed and suffocated by the world around me. Being a person of color in this day and age is already an uphill battle but I was never aware that our environment was against us as well. When I was reading how government officials would erect barriers such as walls to enclose certain neighborhoods and how access to certain parts of a town were denied by not allowing public transit or inhibiting someones ability to walk safely on the road all disturbed me. Many of the aspects of the environment that were being controlled were aspects that almost directly impacted low-income persons and people of color. Whats worse is that these were not events of the past but many of which are still in place today. I personally live in a housing community which is sort of cut off from the outside world and after reading Schindler’s work I began to realize that a lot of the features of my neighborhood are used to keep people like me out. For one the closest bus stop is a 30 minute hike up a hill. Secondly, any and all highways are about 20 minutes driving distance and any entrance or exit is on the other side of highway facing away from the neighborhoods in our area. My family has always been a low-income family but my mother chose to live in our neighborhood to give us a better start than she had growing up and so to see how much the environment around us attempts to thwart the dreams of people like us is damaging. I do pray that one day as we progress as a people that can love one another that injustices like architectural exclusion are corrected.

Schindlers “Architectural Exclusion” Reading Summary

Sarah Schindlers work “Architectural Exclusion” discusses the forms of regulation performed through architectural work to either discriminate, eliminate, or control one group or another. The reading is broken up into two major parts: Architectural Exclusion as a theory, and Architectural Exclusion as a practice. The theory of architectural exclusion revolves around defining the term architectural exclusion and how its practices are so abundant in the U.S. Architectural Exclusion is a means of regulation or control of one or groups, to either benefit or harm said groups. Many do not see this kind of blatant discrimination because we assume it is just a part of daily life. Due to this it has become very difficult to reprimand many practices of architectural exclusion as it is harder to pinpoint or not taken as serious as laws made to control or discriminate. Part 1 goes into detail about the vast how overwhelming the art of regulation is in the built environment around us, but how few have considered its role in our daily lives. Much of our built environment controls our way of transport and access to certain areas, which has made architectural exclusion more political than lawful. Take for example the abundance of neighborhoods with houses to own in a given city, rather than making apartment homes. Low-income citizens are more likely to rent an apartment than buy a home and are less likely to vote than middle to upper-class citizens, causing government officials to cater to homeowners than renters. This also ties to racial discrimination because more people of color find themselves in lower income situations. Practices like this are found all throughout the United States but are not easy to overcome because many see the built environment not as a means of control, but as just apart of daily life. Part 2 goes into great detail about the different types of architectural exclusion as a practice. It begins with an example of New York architect Robert Moses building bridges that hung very low in order to inhibit public transportation into his newly built park. He did this because at the time the majority of those riding public transit were people of color. One of the largest practices of architectural regulation is by the placement of public transit spots, as those who primarily use public transit are low-income individuals or people of color. It is not only architects that take part in this regulation but neighborhood and government officials as well. Many middle and upper class homeowners will vote against the placement of public transit sites near their residence as a way to deter crime. Government officials will do the same but also go a step above that with the building of highways and walls that create a physical barrier between two groups of people. In example highway exits may be placed leading away from upper-class homes and into more impoverished areas to deter traffic from entering richer neighborhoods.  Again these are all blatant acts of discrimination against one or more groups of people, but as long as it is a form of regulation that can be wielded by people in power and brushed over as nothing more than landscape, then nothing will change.



Schindlers “Architectural Exclusion” Passage Meaning

7) “…there is no such thing as a neutral design” What this excerpt means is that any design is meant to be either beneficial or detrimental to one or more groups of people. The meaning behind is this is that every creation has a reason behind it. For example a building may be constructed to protect one or more persons from the outside world, hence benefitting them. Also, a gate can be constructed, to keep people out and protect people on the other side of the gate. Where one group is being benefitted and the other is being harmed.

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