Race, Riots, Real Estate, Architecture

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This thesis examines inequalities in the use of, the management of, and the opportunities provided to the built environment, specifically through the context of race, riots, and architecture. By investigating the history and context of racially charged riots in the United States, this thesis seeks to understand the role that architecture has played in exacerbating the perceived oppression through the physical environment, and seeks solutions where architecture may play a role. Architecture is a form of cultural communication, and therefore it can be “read” and understood as a spatial expression of the values and beliefs of a dominant perspective (the cultural hegemony) for a particular time. Culture divides space and time as a means to communicate to others within the society what is important, significant, and “natural.”

Cognizant of the overarching complexities concerning race, this thesis does not seek to provide a solution to the problems concerning race. Rather, this thesis attempts to argue that the lack of identity and connection to place is a common denominator between many of the communities plagued with a history of racially charged riots. It is a problem that stems from the issue of race, a problem in which architecture can be used as a medium to construct a distinct sense of identity, as well as a helping to create a sense of connection to place. To achieve a sense of “place-ness” architecture divides and circumscribes space in a particular way to foster this goal.