Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Kevin G. Gill


Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, in Bear Run, Pennsylvania, is a celebrated architectural masterpiece of groundbreaking vision and design ingenuity. Today unfortunately, in many municipalities, strict design controls prevent architects from designing such visionary work. These controls preclude buildings that do not mimic a certain architectural style, or otherwise conform to the neighborhood. They are promulgated on notions of community harmony; the argument is made that unconventional architectural design is somehow discordant and will adversely affect property values.

Architecture has been called humanity's greatest form of expression. Architecture can be a physical expression of philosophical, religious, political, and aesthetic ideas and beliefs. Yet, in many localities, this expression is reigned in and extinguished. The problem involves a clash of three interests: the individual interest in freedom of expression, the community police power, and the neighbor's interest enmeshed in the common law nuisance doctrine. This Note explores the intersection of these three deeply rooted interests, and search for a proper balance that allows creativity and self-expression the freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.