Yale Architecture Thesis

Unlike architectural exclusion, these traditional methods of exclusion are of central concern to modern law, in part because lawmakers and legal analysis tend to focus on regulation through law and norms.This Part provides context by briefly discussing the history of overt physical exclusion by law in the United States.Walls, fences, and highways separate historically white neighborhoods from historically black ones.

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Such devices include physical barriers to access—low bridges, road closings, and the construction of walls—as well as the placement of transit stops, highway routes, one-way streets, and parking-by-permit-only requirements.

In Part III, the Article considers the way that courts have analyzed exclusion through traditional land-use methods.

Associate Professor of Law, University of Maine School of Law.

This Article has benefitted greatly from the feedback received at the Sabin Colloquium on Innovative Environmental Law Scholarship at Columbia Law School, the annual meeting of the Association for Law, Property, and Society, and the junior faculty works in progress workshop at American University’s Washington College of Law.

The resulting infrastructure is included in this broad definition of architecture and functions as a form of regulation through architecture.21 Part I provides a theoretical framework for analysis by focusing on the way that the built environment controls or regulates our behavior.

It examines the literature that discusses infrastructure placement and design as physical and symbolic contributors to economic and social inequality, exclusion, and isolation.Architectural regulation is powerful in part because it is unseen; it “allows government to shape our actions without our perceiving that our experience has been deliberately shaped.”22 This hidden power suggests that lawmakers and judges should be especially diligent in analyzing the exclusionary impacts of architecture, but research demonstrates that they often give these impacts little to no consideration.23 Part II considers the practice of architectural exclusion.It details a number of ways that municipalities—through actions by their residents, their police forces, or their local elected officials—have created infrastructure and designed their built environs to restrict passage through and access to certain areas of the community.Street grid design, one-way streets, the absence of sidewalks and crosswalks, the location of highways and transit stops, and even residential parking permit requirements can shape the demographics of a city and isolate a neighborhood from those surrounding it, often intentionally.Decisions about infrastructure shape more than just the physical city; those decisions also influence the way that residents and visitors experience the city.17 This Article examines the sometimes subtle ways that the built environment has been used to keep certain segments of the population—typically poor people and people of color—separate from others.While these concepts are foundational to planners and architects, only a small number of legal scholars—including Lessig—have begun to consider the built environment’s regulatory role.Regulation through architecture is just as powerful as law, but it is less explicit, less identifiable, and less familiar to courts, legislators, and the general public.Robert Moses was known as the “Master Builder” of New York.1 During the time that he was appointed to a number of important state and local offices,2 he shaped much of New York’s infrastructure, including a number of “low-hanging overpasses” on the Long Island parkways that led to Jones Beach.3 According to his biographer, Moses directed that these overpasses be built intentionally low so that buses could not pass under them.4 This design decision meant that many people of color and poor people, who most often relied on public transportation, lacked access to the lauded public park at Jones Beach.5 *** Although the Atlanta, Georgia, metropolitan area is known for its car-centric, sprawling development patterns, it has a subway system: the Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transit Authority (MARTA).6 Wealthy, mostly white residents of the northern Atlanta suburbs have vocally opposed efforts to expand MARTA into their neighborhoods for the reason that doing so would give people of color easy access to suburban communities.7 The lack of public-transit connections to areas north of the city makes it difficult for those who rely on transit—primarily the poor and people of color—to access job opportunities located in those suburbs.8 *** At the request of white residents, in 1974 the city of Memphis closed off a street that connected an all-white neighborhood to a primarily black one.9 Supporters of this measure argued that it would ostensibly reduce traffic and noise, in addition to promoting safety.10 The U. Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to this action, stating that the road closure was just a “routine burden of citizenship” and a “slight inconvenience.”11 Justice Marshall dissented, acknowledging that this inconvenience carried a “powerful symbolic message.”12 He wrote, “The picture that emerges from a more careful review of the record is one of a white community, disgruntled over sharing its street with Negroes, taking legal measures to keep out the ‘undesirable traffic,’ and of a city, heedless of the harm to its Negro citizens, acquiescing in the plan.”13 He believed that through this action, the city was sending a clear message to its black residents,14 and he could not understand why the Court could not see that message.*** Why have the Court, judges, and lawmakers—the entities usually tasked with crafting and enforcing antidiscrimination law—failed to find fault with these sorts of physical acts of exclusion?current and forthcoming projects include radical affirmation, a summer camp for queer youth in utrecht, netherlands, as well as an archival excavation, symposium and exhibition of materials held by the schwules museum, berlin, whose extensive archives document lgbtq life and history.asad received his bfa from the rhode island school of design and holds an mfa from the yale school of art.


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