Reading Summary One: The Built Environment

The article from the journal Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination And Segregation Through Physical Design Of The Built Environment by Sarah Schindler, focuses on the theory in which architecture and design are subtly used in the world to separate races and different classes of people. It describes the MARTA subway system in Atlanta and how the suburbs of the city fight against the expansion of its railway lines and routes. People with less money may not be able to afford their own car or gas for the car, which prevents them from living far away from their workplace. It is the belief of the middle to upper class people living in those suburbs that public transportation is only used by lower class individuals or even homeless people. Thus with an expansion of routes to the suburbs also comes the expansion of lower class following them. This is also true of the placement of public transportation stops. Public transportation such as buses are said to be more heavily used by lower income poor people. With a strategic placement of the bus stops and routes it is possible to keep these lower income people out of higher income residential areas.

Another form of exclusion used in today’s architecture surrounding us is the use of street signs. Street signs can either be used as a method to confuse people or even by directing the flow of traffic. One way signs help funnel traffic to certain areas while keeping it out of wealthier parts of a town. In addition, a lack of signs may be used as a tool of hidden exclusion. Lack of street signs results in a very confusing and hard to travel area. This method is used to keep out visitors, which in theory makes the neighborhood nicer. Schindler talks about the city of Darien, Connecticut, a predominantly white city, in which residents have said “even street signs are in short supply in Darien, . . . making it hard to find one’s way around that elite sundown suburb. Darien doesn’t really want a lot of visitors, a resident pointed out, and keeping Darien confusing for strangers might deter criminals perhaps a veiled reference to African Americans.” Along with street signs, residential parking permits make it so people cannot visit an area of town and clutter it up. Guests would have to actually know someone who lives in the neighborhood to be able to park there legally.

These are just a few of the techniques Schindler discusses in the journal. The majority of the general public is oblivious of what is actually being done. The Segregation of poor lower class people is prevalent all around us; ranging from an unsuspecting park bench with armrests preventing the homeless from sleeping on them, to the specific height and size of a bridge acting as a barrier fro large trucks or even a physical barrier., exclusion is all around us. Legal actions are being brought into discussion as to the legality of these apparent acts of segregation, which Schindler discusses in the remainder of the article.


Park Bench

Works Cited

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

Benches in Heartside Park. Digital image. N.p., 6 Apr. 2015. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.