Architecture is not neutral. As a social art and act of service, architecture is not isolated from societal and political issues. In the United States, reproductive healthcare and access are intimately intertwined with spatial ramifications and laws. Architects are equipped to address the right to abortion through both design and expertise, as building codes and sites of care remain at the center of conversation and legislation.
Given the recent ruling of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Friday June 24th, there must be more than near silence from our community in order to design a more just future. The overturning of Roe v. Wade is not an issue that solely affects women, but instead every body that seeks autonomy and liberation.
The following media showcases contemporary examples of architectural practice in hand with reproductive rights in the “land of the free.” Lori A. Brown and Jordan Kravitz
Betsky, Aaron. “Imagining Public Spaces.” Architect Magazine. July 01, 2014.
Brown, Lori A. and Jordan Kravitz. “Why architects are critical in the fight for abortion rights.” Fast Company, November 17, 2022.
“Already, we have more than 200 architects willing to do this work, representing 35 states and the District of Columbia, and we have already connected four providers with architects. But with more than 140,000 architects across the country, there are far more who need to step up!“
Brown, Lori A. “‘Like Some Kind of Legal Houdini’: Abortion Access and the State in Garza.”The Avery Review, Issue 54. 2021.
Brown, Lori A. “Private Choices, Public Spaces.” ARPA Journal. May 2, 2016.
“As inherently politicized spaces in North America and beyond, abortion clinics raise complex questions about the fluid and ever-shifting terrain of reproductive healthcare access. Here, varying degrees of federal and state control unfold—most recently evident with the alteration of building codes for ideological gain and the reduction of abortion clinics.” -Brown
Brown, Lori A. “Zoned Out: Buildings and Bodies.” Harvard Design Magazine, Issue 41. 2015.
Budds, Diana. “Architects Are Getting Ready for an Abortion-Clinic Building Spike.” Curbed. July 12, 2022.
“There are over 70 architects from 16 states currently on the growing list of those willing to help expand or build new clinics. The list will not be publicly published, and will be shared only with clinics that are looking for architectural services, as a way to protect the architects’ and clinics’ privacy and help guard against retaliation.”
Dreith, Ben. “Architects should be “more involved” in abortion access says AIA Los Angeles panel.” Dezeen. September 1, 2022.
Corroto, Carla. “The architecture of choice: re-framing feminism.” Parlour: Women, Equity, Architecture. July 18, 2013.
“Architecture is now a pawn for Virginia lawmakers who are using the built environment for targeted regulations on abortion providers.” -Carroto
Dzhanova, Yelena. “Meet the 2 women mobilizing a team of architects to help design and build abortion clinics nationwide.“ Business Insider. July 25, 2022.
Feynman, Ezra. “Legal Abortions, Illegal Architectures.” Paprika! Volume 4, Issue 11. February 2019.
Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura and Jeenah Moon. “In New York, Anti-Abortion Centers Outnumber Abortion Clinics.” The New York Times. June 25, 2022. [Note: Login required.]
“Many crisis pregnancy centers are next to abortion clinics because the chances of women confusing one for the other is greater, Ms. Estrada said.
This is what happened to Ms. Clinton last fall in the Bronx, when she was trying to decide about her pregnancy. As she walked and thought, she failed to notice the Planned Parenthood, with its subdued blue signage, right across the street from the more colorful Expectant Mother Care pregnancy center. “No, I didn’t recognize it at all,” said Ms. Clinton, who added that she was unaware a Planned Parenthood was in the neighborhood.” -de Freytas-Tamura and Moon
Evitts Dickinson, Elizabeth. “Architecture, TRAP Laws, and the Battle Over Abortion.” Architect Magazine, April 13, 2020.
“The reality is, abortion is already being banned without ever overturning Roe,” says Flood, who works with Planned Parenthood affiliates around the country to understand how state laws and regulations affect facility design. “There is a multilayered effort, which includes building restrictions, general abortion restrictions, and municipal codes that push abortion out of reach.”
Evitts Dickinson, Elizabeth. “The Architecture of Abortion: How Providers Build Their Own Buffer Zones.” Fast Company. July 03, 2014.
F-architecture. “The Incubator Incubator, the Administration of Leaky Bodies, and Other Labor Pains.” Harvard Design Magazine, Issue 46. 2018.
F-architecture. “The Birth of the Clinic.“ Architexx. January 10, 2018.
Greenwald, Rebecca. “Architecture’s Role in a Post-Roe World.” Metropolis Magazine. July 21, 2022.
“As they point out, architectural services can have a direct positive impact in this moment—clinics in states like California are about to see an up to 3,000 percent increase in need for services, and existing infrastructure is inadequate to help them meet that demand. They will be focusing most immediately on those states that are expected to see the greatest influx of people traveling in for care and where abortion is expected to remain legal, namely New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, and California.“
Overholt, M.C., “Lessons from the Crisis Pregnancy Center: Anti-abortion Activism and the Architecture of Coercion,” PLATFORM, June 24, 2022.
Overholt, M.C., “Lessons from the Participatory Clinic: Architecture and Abortion at the Feminist Women’s Health Centers,” PLATFORM, December 13, 2021.
“The Undue Burden of Architecture: Scapegoat Interview with George Johannes, Lori Brown, and Eliza McCullough.” in Scapegoat, Issue 11. 2018.
Schulman, Pansy. “As Roe v. Wade Falls, Architects Step Up.” Architectural Record. August 26, 2022.
Wesseler, Sarah. “The Abortion Clinic Next Door.” The Architectural League of New York. July 7, 2021.
Womxn in Design and Architecture. “Why the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Health Women’s Clinic matters for architects and architecture students.” The Architect’s Newspaper. September 15, 2022.
Brown, Lori A. Contested Spaces: Abortion Clinics, Women’s Shelters and Hospitals. Routledge. 2013.
Brown, Lori A., Ed. Feminist Practices: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Women in Architecture. Routledge. 2011.
Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative. Making Space: Women and the Man Made Environment. 1984, reissued 2021.
Millar Fisher, Michelle and Amber Winick. Designing Motherhood: Things that Make or Break Our Births. MIT Press, 2021.
Spain, Daphne. “Feminist Health Clinics: Promoting Reproductive Rights” in Constructive Feminism: Women’s Spaces and Women’s Rights in the American City. 1st ed. Cornell University Press, 2016.
Architecture and Abortion: Design of Politicized Spaces
Thursday, August 18, 2022
ACLA, AIA | LA’s Women in Architecture Committee, AIA | LA’s J.E.D.I Committee, SoCal NOMA
Discussion with Lori Brown, FAIA and Nina Briggs
Love in a Mist: The Politics of Fertility
2019 Exhibition at Harvard Graduate School of Design
Curator: Malkit Shoshan
Research: Love in a Mist | Reproductive Rights
Private Choices Public Spaces.
Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons School of Design.
September 18 to October 2, 2014.
Artist/Designers: Architexx; Curators: Lori Brown, Kimberly Tate
Blueprints of Justice Vol. 2: Human Rights. The Weaponization of Space Against the Body.
Oana Stănescu and Nóra Al Haider
Spring 2022, MIT School of Architecture and The Stanford Legal Design Lab
Ongoing collaboration of Columbia, CCNY, and Syracuse graduate design studios:
Reproductive Justice Network
Fall 2022, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and Planning (GSAPP)
In conjunction with Lori Brown (Syracuse University School of Architecture) & Lindsay Harkema (CCNY Spitzer School of Architecture)
Ahmed, Sara. Living a Feminist Life. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2017.
Caregiving as Method Series. Society of Architectural Historians. Video recordings. 2021.
Crawford, Lucas. “The Crumple and the Scrape,” Places Journal, March 2020. Accessed 27 Jun 2022.
Crow, Maisie and Alissa Quart. “The Last Clinic.” The Atavist Magazine, no 21. 2013.
Documentary film and article.
FWD / Issue 03: Body Politics. 2018.
Preciado, Paul B. “The Hot War.” e-flux Journal Issue #114. December 2020.
“The world is divided, as Bruno Latour puts it, not only in relation to environmental politics but also, and even more sharply, in relation to sexual and reproductive politics. A new hot war divides the world into two blocs: on one side, the techno-patriarchal empire and, on the other, the territory where it is still possible to negotiate gestational sovereignty.” -Paul B. Preciado
Tolentino, Jia. “Interview With a Woman Who Recently Had an Abortion at 32 Weeks.” Jezebel. June 15, 2016.