Reading Summary #1: Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment

     Reading Summary #1

      The article Schindler writes about architectural exclusion analyzes how architecture can be overlooked as a means of discrimination and segregation and the ways in which this occurs in cities all across America. Schindler breaks down her article into five sections. The piece covers everything from how the built environment shapes human behavior, how architectural exclusion occurs, and how easily it is thrown aside by the population and even lawmakers.

The infrastructure of a city goes deeper than just the way it looks. In many urban areas a specific design is put in place to keep out people from certain walks of life. There are several examples of this. One actually takes place in the city of Atlanta. MARTA is the main form of public transportation throughout the city. However, the tracks of MARTA do not expand past certain areas outside the perimeter. There is a reason for this. The wealthier areas in the suburbs do not want MARTA to extend too far past the city, with the worry that the homeless or people of lower class will have a means to travel outside the urban walls (Schindler 1938). There are countless other examples of architectural exclusion such as bridges being just low enough so a public transportation bus cannot drive under or walls built between a poor area and a newly developed one. Schindler points out that these infrastructure decisions shape more than just the area; they shape our behavior (Schindler 1940).

Schindler suggests that some spaces have racial meaning (1950). This idea seems a bit illogical at first, but when though out the author makes an important point. The fact that a certain part of town is walled off because of social class gives law enforcement the idea that certain people do long belong on the wealthy side of that wall. Some spaces do not have safe pedestrian access for a reason (Schindler 1955). Those areas with no crosswalks or sidewalks are strategically placed. Often times, people hardly give thought to such aspects of a space, which leads to another one of Schindler’s main points: how architectural exclusion is so overlooked by lawmakers.

Architecture is not thought of as a way to separate social classes in a space. That is precisely why lawmakers do not often enforce disputes dealing with architectural exclusion. Even if these issues were recognized, the current law system is not equipped to address the damage the exclusion can do (Schindler 1934). An example that Schindler uses is racial zoning. In the early 1900’s racial zoning began by the cities passing ordinances keeping certain races, often those of color, from moving into predominantly white areas (Schindler 1975). These regulations can technically hold up in court, despite the obvious reason behind them. Thus, lawmakers often look past these types of rules, and there are no current laws to force them to deal with the issue.

Overall, Schindler’s article expresses how architecture can cause discrimination in the built environment. Architecture is used as a way to divide the community and keep out the “undesirables”. Schindler digs deeper to point out that architecture goes repeatedly unnoticed as a way to shape a space and alter the behavior of those who live in it. Architectural discrimination is all around us and although it may seem like just a bridge or a park bench, those structures often have ulterior motives that are too often overlooked.





Works Cited

SCHINDLER, SARAH. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination And Segregation Through Physical Design Of The Built Environment.” Yale Law Journal124.6 (2015): 1934-2024. Academic Search Complete. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.



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