Can a building be racist?

An online furore sparked by an opinion article in the Denver Post raises important questions about cultural diversity in urban planning.

Denver’s Union train station was refurbished, maintaining many of the original Romanesque, Classical Revival and Beaux-Arts features. But it is racist, says fine arts critic, Ray Mark Rinaldi. The building and surrounding precinct attract mostly “monied” white millennials.

Dean Saitta – professor of anthropology and director of the Urban Studies Program, University of Denver – examines the mostly negative public outrage in response to the column. Saitta says the article, whilst clumsy, highlights the importance of place-making that is “culturally aware”.

Denver's Union Station interior
Denver's Union Station (Photograph by D. Saitta)

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