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Scholarship of Design
Constructing Health: Representations of Health and Housing in Charlottesville’s Urban Renewals
Kevan J. Klosterwill, Alissa Ujie Diamond, Barbara Brown Wilson & Jeana Ripple
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This essay explores the co-construction of urban health and blight through architectural representation during urban renewal, exploring how buildings symbolically stood for social and epidemiological diagnoses, producing racial othering through depictions of space. Analysis of photographs, building surveys, real estate appraisals, maps, reports, and advertisements preceding urban renewal in Charlottesville, Virginia, reveals a racialized gaze that constructed problematic associations of whiteness with health and Blackness with blight. We argue that racialized image-making practices perpetuated inequities that urban renewal policy purported to reconcile while masking the true generating dynamics of white neglect and wealth extraction.

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