8 Books You Need to Read on the Intersection of Race and Architecture in America

8 Books You Need to Read on the Intersection of Race and Architecture in America

Now more than ever, it’s important to understand the history of racism endemic to our built environment. Only then can we reject it and build a better future.

Architecture is supposed to be for everyone. So then why are only 2% of licensed architects in the U.S. African American? Why is Black home ownership at 44%, the lowest in the nation? Why are our neighborhoods still so segregated? To gain a better understanding of the ways in which racist policies and practices have strategically diminished quality of life and employment opportunities for Black people, we’ve compiled a list of necessary readings.

Editor’s note: These suggestions are just a jumping off point. For a more extensive reading list, the New York Public Library has posted the Schomburg Center’s Black Liberation Reading List here.

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
Widely heralded as a “masterful” (Washington Post) and “essential” (Slate) history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law offers “the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood...
The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal about Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power
When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it is in their capacity to ensure that the postman can deliver mail or a traveler won't get lost. But street addresses were not invented to help you find your way; they were created to find you.
The Black Skyscraper: Architecture and the Perception of Race
How did writers and artists view the intersection of architecture and race in the modernist era? With the development of the first skyscrapers in the 1880s, urban built environments could expand vertically as well as horizontally.
Race and Modern Architecture: A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present
Although race—a concept of human difference that establishes hierarchies of power and domination—has played a critical role in the development of modern architectural discourse and practice since the Enlightenment, its influence on the discipline remains largely underexplored.
Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America
Part family story and part urban history, a landmark investigation of segregation and urban decay in Chicago—and cities across the nation  The "promised land" for thousands of Southern blacks, postwar Chicago quickly became the most segregated city in the North, the site of the nation's worst...
Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership
By the late 1960s and early 1970s, reeling from a wave of urban uprisings, politicians finally worked to end the practice of redlining.
Black Built: History and Architecture in the Black Community
While Black architects produce extraordinary works, they account for only two percent of the profession in the United States. Many of their works exist in the Black community and have helped preserve and restore history and culture.
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
A lyrical, intelligent, authentic, and necessary look at the intersection of race and class in Chicago, a Great American City In this intelligent and highly important narrative, Chicago-native Natalie Moore shines a light on contemporary segregation in the city's South Side; with a memoirist's eye,...

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