Reading Summary Two

This is an example of a park bench divided into individual seats to keep homeless people from being able to sleep comfortably on it.

“Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination And Segregation Through Physical Design Of The Built Environment.” By Sarah Schindler


In Schindler’s article, “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination And Segregation Through Physical Design Of The Built Environment”, she addressed many issues involving the built environments of various areas throughout the United States. She argues that places are built with the intentions of excluding certain individuals, such as poor people and people of color, from accessing them. She recognizes the numerous instances in which discrimination and segregation factors in architecture and the government allowed it to happen.


In the introduction, Schindler provides an example of such discrimination and segregation that Schindler mentions was in Memphis, Tennessee in 1974. At that time, the white residents requested that a street that connected an all-white neighborhood to a predominantly black on be closed off. The claimed that “it was ostensibly reduce traffic and noise, in addition to promoting safety” (Schindler, 1938). The Supreme Court allowed it. Justice Marshall was quoted in the article saying that by allowing the street to be closed, it possessed a “powerful symbolic message” and that it is just “a white community, disgruntled over sharing a street with Negroes” (Schindler, 1938). It was evident even when there was a blatant problem it still got over looked.


Throughout the remainder of the article, Schindler discusses architectural exclusion in two sections: Theories of Architectural Exclusion and Practice of Architectural Exclusion. In the first of these two sections, “Theory,” Schindler describes the exclusion as a regulatory practice. She mentions the three ways in which exclusion happen. The first is by law, the second is by threating people, and the third is by architecture. The architectural form of exclusion Schindler claims in illegal. She discusses how “cities were constructed in ways- including by erecting physical barriers- that made it very difficult for people from one side of town to access the other side” (Schindler, 1942). An example of this architectural exclusion that act as a form of regulation mentioned in the article is how some park benches have arm rests separating the benches into individual seats. This design is really intended “to prevent people- often the homeless people- from lying down and taking naps” (Schindler, 1942).


The second for part, “Practice,” discusses the many ways that states built and designed their environments to deny access from specific areas of a community. The sub-sections for this part are physical barriers to access and transit. Schindler says, “For example, sidewalks make walking easier and safer, in large part by reducing the risk of pedestrian and vehicle collisions” (Schindler, 1954). Her opinion is that such barriers are approved and brought about in an effort to promote public safety. As a result of these barriers, significant changes have taken place within the communities. In reference to transit, the article discusses the placement of public transit and the stops. For example, some people are against public transit in the nicer and more-developed areas because are believe that it will increase the number of homeless or lower-income people from coming in and out of the areas; thus, increase crime rates.


In conclusion, it was evident that Schindler’s purpose for writing the article was to draw attention to the illegal and unacceptable methods of exclusion that take place. It is unfair that the architecture is planned out in a way that will intentionally exclude certain groups of people- often the black and the homeless.

Reading Summary One


Summary of “Tapestry of Space: Domestic Architecture and Underground Communities in Margret Morton’s Photography of a Forgotten New York’ by Nersessova


The article, ‘Tapestry of Space: Domestic Architecture and Underground Communities in Margret Morton’s Photography of a Forgotten New York’ by Nersessova, opened with an introduction about how “Morton’s photographs of New York’s homeless demonstrate how urban space impacts the psyche and directs behavior” (Nersessova). Morton’s photographs show how the homeless use discarded materials to make a place of their own. The homeless men and women of these shanties gain a sort of “space” by aligning their materials to provide themselves with shelter. Nersessova discusses how although these spaces are not permanent, they allow the homeless to express themselves architecturally, which establishes a sense of identity. However, that identity is stripped away when the tunnels are blocked off and their homes are demolished. The remainder of the article is broken into five categories excluding the conclusion: Situationalist International and Material Production, The Role of the Urban Photographer, Psychogeography as Rejection of Imperialism, Public Space vs. City Attractions, and Domestic Architecture. However, throughout this summary, the main focus will be on the Situationist International and Public Space vs. City Attractions sections because those are the most pertinent to me.


The first of those categories is the Situationist International and Material Production. In this section, Nersessova compares Morton’s photographs to twentieth century Marxist ides. Nersessova acknowledges Morton’s “commitment to anti-capitalism, psychogeography, and participation in the dérive builds upon situationist ideas…” (Nersessova). With respect to the material production, Nersessova defines the difference between material production and what Morton’s interviewees did. Material production frequently harms the environment, while the interviewees use the space as a way to demonstrate their creativity. By building on the space, the interviewees are not exploiting the environment; they were simply using what was already there to provide them with shelter. The purpose of the Situationist International was to “eliminate the division between art and life to examine everyday life in its entirety” (Nersessova). This section basically addresses the ways in which the homeless men and women are deprived of their homes and displaced.


The second category of relevance to me was the Public Space vs. City Attractions. In this section, Nersessova quotes Morton’s interviews and talks about how public spaces are being padlocked and welded shut blocking the interviewees from access. Although the behavior of the interviewees may not be considered ill, “the label “homeless” has been mistakenly approached as a criminal behavior itself” (Nersessova). In order to turn the urban areas into city attractions and profit, “businesses have to expand, bring in the wealthy, and attract tourists. The means to this goal has been to push the poor out of sight” (Nersessova). By banning the homeless from public places, yet shutting down the underground tunnels that they move to, the officials are leaving them with no where to go. As a result, “the war on public space intensified…” (Nersessova).


In conclusion, the primary purpose for Nersessova’s writing was to draw attention to the classist, capitalist ways in which urban areas, such as New York, operate. Morton’s photographs depicted the struggles that the homeless population face. Where are they to go if they are banned from public areas and their tunnels are obstructed? Throughout the article, Nerssesova brought up several valid arguments about the nature of the circumstances that the homeless encounter.