Designing Urban Space for Access and Memory

Urban Studies and Planning

This study examines imposed inequities of urban design and governance decisions—buildings, roads, spaces, transit, walls, fences, regulations--that thwart social, political, and economic integration.

Low-wealth and people of color are marginalized by the schools they attend, the services they receive, the logistical limitations of movement, and the services provided. Urban American was designed to discriminate far more surreptitiously than urban renewal exploitations or racial coding. The fabric of the American city is a warren of streets that lead to nowhere, governance and regulations that support systems of separation, segregated placement of affordable housing and downtown housing, and a deficient recognition of multi-cultural places and spaces. This proposed project begins the arduous process of dismantling the design of the American city and its structures to identify how design, governance, and civic culture have contributed to racial and socio-economic separation and the continued segregation of the city.  

Desired outcomes

1. To develop a prototype of exclusionary design and governance practices using three cities: Charlottesville, Virginia; Chicago, Illinois; and Cleveland, Ohio.

2. To create a anthology of discriminatory design and regulations.

3. To engage students in the difficult work and research of the "undoing" racial and economic injustice through the lens of the built and the regulatory environments.

4. To create a new field of inquiry that includes law, cultural studies, and urban design and planning that supports a research agenda to "re-plat" the American city.