When Brad Pitt visited New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward two years after Hurricane Katrina, he was shocked by the lack of rebuilding progress in this historic, working class community. Many worried the plight of the neighborhood would be forgotten, but in a bold move, Pitt committed to help rebuild in the hardest hit area of the city.
Pitt believed that if safe, sustainable homes could be built in the most devastated part of New Orleans, it would prove that high quality green housing could be built affordably everywhere. Led by GRAFT architects, the Make It Right foundation convened 21 world-renowned architects to design climate-adapted, eco-friendly homes, informed by William McDonough’s Cradle to Cradle design principles. Over the course of many months, Pitt and the architects, who volunteered their time and work, met with Lower 9th Ward homeowners and community leaders to talk abou their rebuilding needs and collaborate on home designs.
Make It Right kicked off initial fundraising efforts with the Pink Project in December 2007 and broke ground on the first homes with President Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative in March 2008. Construction began in June 2008 and the first six homes were completed in August 2008.
There is a commitment to build 150 homes and all have earned LEED Platinum, the highest level of certification offered by the U.S. Green Building Council. More than 350 people are now living in Make It Right homes in part of the neighborhood that was desolate just five years ago. In addition to providing homes, Make it Right has built an eco-friendly, solar-powered playground and worked with residents to plant community gardens throughout the neighborhood. Now they are exploring ways to attract other needed services and amenities to ensure the long-term sustainability of the community.
Make It Right also significantly invests in hiring and training local businesses and trades people. Their cutting-edge work in sustainable design, construction and solar power has helped train a local workforce in green collar jobs and helped position New Orleans and Louisiana as a leader in the green economy.
Make It Right believes that energy efficient, well-designed homes should be affordable and available for everyone. Through innovative partnerships and community-led design sessions, they are working in neighborhoods across the country and educating others to change the way buildings are designed and built.
Today Make It Right is sharing their knowledge of affordable green homebuilding with communities around the country and around the world. While continuing to fulfill their commitment to New Orleans, they have helped build an apartment building for disabled veterans in Newark, New Jersey and broken ground on an ambitious community development in a blighted Kansas City, Missouri neighborhood. They continue to find innovative ways to help communities in need and educate others to change the way buildings are designed and built.
A registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Make It Right is able to build homes for communities in need because of the generous support received from individual donors, corporations and foundations. Every dollar given to Make It Right helps build more homes and educate others in affordable, green building methods.
For more information about the Make it Right Foundation or to donate, please visit www.makeitright.org.
Make It Right Foundation
912 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
By: Kelly Taggart & Greg Root
Photos: Allen Carrasco