Law as a factor in Architectural Exclusion

Village of Arlington Heights Homes

Throughout history, law has been used to exclude certain undesirable members of a community from certain parts of the community. In her article “Architectural Exclusion” Sarah Schindler has noted that courts and legislators have often seen architecture and design as ambivalent in the context of excluding individuals from certain areas of a built environment. She starts out with examples of racial zoning and racially restrictive covenants which the courts disapproved of to show that at least some form of exclusion was not tolerable. However, Schindler goes on to describe a method of exclusionary zoning, where municipalities have a minimum square footage and a minimum lot size to make homes unaffordable for poor people and minorities. For example, she extends her argument to the supreme court and quotes their opinion on such a matter explaining that the court required the plaintiff to have intentional discrimination in order to show strict scrutiny. Moreover, legal scholars have touched on this sort of exclusion and have found it hard to prove intentional discrimination, therefore proving the ambiguity that the courts present in the context of this matter.  

In many court cases throughout history, methods of exclusionary zoning have been tried but to no avail. In the court case “Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp,” the Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation sued for  declaratory relief. Moreover, it claimed that the denial of rezoning was discriminatory in nature and violated the Fourteenth Amendment as well as the Fair Housing Act of 1968. However, the Supreme Court held that the corporation failed to prove that discriminatory purpose as a factor in the zoning of the village and therefore remanded the case. Finally proving that lawmakers and housing authorities have found loopholes around the law in order to discriminate against certain individuals.


Works Citied:

Schindler, Sarah. Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment. Accessed 12 Feb. 2017.

Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp | Casebriefs – Part 2. Accessed 1 May 2017.

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