Brad Pitt’s Make It Right presents duplex homes for NOLA


William McDonough + Partners duplex home for

´s Make It Right Foundation has been working with a group of international architects to redevelop the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, after hurricane Katrina. The name of the foundation addresses the desire of Pitt, architecture enthusiast, to design these houses the best way and not just as a temporary solution, in a process that also included working not only with these renowned firms, but also very close with the community, with a focus on sustainable development.

The designs are referential, and each client (as the houses aren´t “free”, yet they use existing finance ways and low interest loans) can pick a design, which is then adjusted by local firm John C. Williams Architects to suite the client´s needs.

A first phase included single family homes, designed by practices such as Kieran Timberlake, Shigeru Ban, Morphosis, MVRDV and Trahan Architects. As of now 8 houses have been built, and more than 10 houses are already on construction or in the permit process.

Make It Right has recently unveiled a second phase with 14 duplex homes to accommodate up to 2 families, which include a site-specific sustainable strategy and flexible plans for future family growth. But also, the practices were required to meet integration with the street and the use of landscaping as a design and energy element.

The result?  The 14 duplex homes after the break:

Atelier Hitoshi Abe – www.a-slash.jp

You can see this project completely detailed at Hotlinks / Atelier Hitoshi Abe

Bild Design – www.bildit.com


Billes – www.billesarchitecture.com


buildingstudio – www.buildingstudio.net


BNIM – www.bnim.com


Constructs – www.constructsllc.com


Elemental – www.elementalchile.cl


Gehry Partners – www.foga.com

GRAFT – www.graftlab.com

You can see a detailed post about this project at Duplex House for Make It Right / GRAFT.

Kappe Architects – www.kappedu.com


MVRDV – www.mvrdv.nl


Pugh + Scarpa – www.pugh-scarpa.com


Waggonner & Ball Arch – www.wbarchitects.com


William McDonough + Partners – http://www.mcdonoughpartners.com

Cite: Basulto, David. "Brad Pitt’s Make It Right presents duplex homes for NOLA" 07 Jul 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 01 Sep 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=27966>

38 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I really like the constructs house. The voids and interstitial spaces are what makes that project. such a great collection of work here

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    i didn’t think this could get any worse…
    it’s a funking pissing contest, it seems the only one that gets it is BNIM. These houses exsist next door to each other! As a profession i love how we take a good thing and turn it into B.S . People will live here, not rich families that want something artistic or a vacation home. The material will break down or look cheap.. this form making will be dated in a year… why do we have to be so “clever” all the time?

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Make it right…but make it beautiful!These “transformed-suburban-american-house are horrible”! They could profit a lot more form the interstitial spaces that PanamArq talks about. But nice iniciative from Brad Pitt.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    oh, and these house are a symbol of why “we are so bad” we create individuals, not communities… why if we are redesigning the area, actually redesign it….. houses that act as a collective… all collecting water and sent to a central green machine / laundry … or all house will have PV panels so they can all act as an array and collect for thae masses not the one house, the community will not mingle on the porch like in the past, they need a new area…. design means more this colored hardy board and a crazy roof line…

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    These projects are evidence that the greatest threat to New Orleans may be the rebuilding effort itself….these houses could be from anywhere (by any architect (from anywhere)) and don’t reflect the lifestyle of the south at all…frankly, architects in Los Angeles have no idea what a front porch is used for – a community in crisis needs more connective tissue, not private palaces. Take your meaningless, gentrified architecture elsewhere…thanks!

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    i agree with some of the comments above. there is a lack of cohesion and consistency in the designs.

    there is also a lack of “new orleans” in the design of these homes i personally think. the charm of those shotgun homes is lost in these buildings. sad, really.

    also, i think these houses need to be designed with people of different capabilities (people in wheelchairs, the blind, the aging, etc.) in mind! now, that would “make it right”.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Anyone know of a precedent for neighborhood building like this? In that, each house is very unique to its neighbors? Perhaps there is an unstated gain from a departure from a monotonicity of single-entity homes.

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    The ideas ignore the obvious choice of shotgun houses on stilts. Premanufactured housing with roofs that adjust to the normal pitch could easily be built and erected without ignoring the historic character of the city.
    However, the siting of houses in the worst area for them is inherently dumb.
    Good intentions do not make a neighborhood sustainable.

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Second choice is to use premanufactured barge homes. In flood, the connections are maintained to some degree then disengage with sealed ends.
    The “barge district” could allow retail, restaurants, homes.
    But again, the affordability to the intended tenants/owners must be maintained.
    Scraping and repainting will be required on a periodic basis. Scuppers could allow for the daily rains.

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Well, if you want to attract negative commentary try to do something positive, it works without fail. The curious thing is that any one of these projects would have had a far different reception in a different context.

    I do wonder how many of our commentators have actually ever been to NOLA and/or the Lower 9th Ward?

    This is an experiment, and a damned good one, to try and see what can be done to revise the neighborhood. Here the old neighborhood is referred to as shotgun houses. Where I am from they are called shotgun shacks and, oh yeah, they all washed away in a hurricane. Rebuilding those “houses” on stilts is just dumb and I, for one, am thankful that Mr. Pitt is in a position not to need worry about this carping.

    Yes, some of the forms are overwrought and egotistical. Some of the others, like Ray Kappe’s, Elemental’s, and the Mcdonough proposal look great.

    If you don’t like these projects then design something, do something on spec, and put yourself out there to do something. Tearing down projects like this is a waste of time.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      what is being revised? maybe i didn’t read something… and carping come on bro, this isn’t just saying they suck out of gut reaction or whatever. This is an actual calling out of BS. for a real discussion, and this in a much bigger context needs to happen, or we as architects, that do build at spec , will always be the artistic younger brother of the family… hence no real power……. we as architects should have some standards and not play ball with this media driven assualt…given the power of celebrity and the amount of money and attention payed it should have garnered a radical, re organization, if the old model didn’t work why build in it’s foot prints? I wish i knew what all this was for. It is not for the people, maybe brad pitt wants street cred or an oscar, and everyone seems to have an ego…But this is our environment! and im tired of firms that have grasped the pop culture and are milking it for everything… our culture isn’t mtv and cheap clothes… this stuff is just too short sited… especially when designing “homes” in my opinion the only true architectual vehicle for social change, it’s not the stadium or the museum….

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      I thought the same thing when reading these comments, in fact 4 of the architects are local. I also find it a bit disheartening how quickly people will relegate an entire city to only one typology of house; this is for the community to decide.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      i do agree with Terry Glenn Phipps! it is a great project and who else than someone famous (as brad pitt) could start this.

      I also dont like most of the ideas cause of missing local caracter. I would also like to talk about the price for the concepts!

      You can see all trough the city at the streetlevel? – In the netherlands they make houses which are flexible so they can swimm up/raise with the waterlevel, they are no boats!

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Sorry if shotgun houses degraded into shacks.
      This Old House redid a shotgun house in New Orleans several years ago. Stilt houses are not inherently bad, nor are premanufactured homes.
      Raw materials turned into housing at a plant employing citizens would give the best home a dollar could build. Likely as not, stick built homes would require round the clock guards to protect materials and tools from ne’er do wells.
      Come to think of it. Lack of highway overpasses may allow such homes extremely easy placement.

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    If beautiful architecture were capable of resolving the sins of a city, NOLA wouldn’t have been named the 5th most dangerous city on this planet. Mr. Pitt’s Utopia is not only a step backward (architecturally), but it doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of what needs to be done in post(and pre)-Katrina New Orleans. That is a much more complicated subject.

    I wonder if any of the designers ever contemplated incorporating the ribbons of yellow crime scene tape into their designs, because the way the Lower Ninth Ward is being developed in this hodgepodge way, it will be a more dangerous place to live than it was before – and that’s saying something.

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Why is it that many of these architects resist the very foundation that gave New Orleans its character. Every major city possess types of homes that give the city its character, for NO it was/is the shotgun home. The homes being built now are very experimental, a little too experimental. New Orleans is NOT New York. Sometimes architects fight too much to be bold, ingenuitive, different that we forget to listen to what the context tells us. Building a bunch of future forward homes won’t solve any problems if the people who need them can’t afford them!

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      I agree with Ron…the shotgun house is a rich local typography that could have been mined a lot more…you could build 5 good ones for the cost of one Kieran/Timberlake house (not that they are bad)…look up Elizabeth English’s “Buoyant Foundation” Project…more concise, appropriate ideas there…

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    At least someone is doing something. But they need a real architect . This looks like a schoolproject. Maby if architects that really are good at what they´re doing could stop thinking about money for a second and help New Orleans.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Really? “thinking about money”?! This is a pro bono effort, meaning no financial gain is involved.

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Saying “At least someone is doing something” and then complain about the whole thing……jesus! Maybe someone, goes for all of you, should be greatful that someone is doing something. Use your brains people!!

  15. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    i like you pitt!
    and how right you are Terry Glenn Phipps:
    “The curious thing is that any one of these projects would have had a far different reception in a different context.”
    yes, in the right one!

    brad bless you!

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Tell me something guys- If these people can’t afford living in single family houses why they don’t live in blocks of flats? This is how it works in Europe (I’m not talking about exclusive apartments). The second thing is- why do You keep building Your homes from “cardboard”? Don’t you know that if something is cheap and You want to build it fast it cannot be reliable.

  16. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Nobody is preventing architects and developers from building “normal” houses in New Orleans. These egos are being brought in not just to design houses, but to rouse public interest, spark discussion, and keep the spotlight focused on NOLA. From a functional standpoint, what will 8 or 12 houses do for the thousands displaced in the lower 9th? Much more could be accomplished by building non-descript track homes by the hundreds that mimic (no, mock) historic styles. But the idea here is to grasp this opportunity to explore new ways of building and living, with new technologies (yes, experimentation in some cases) so that design and building as a whole can progress in the city. Maybe not on the radical level of these dozen MIR homes, there is the potential here to do a lot of good. And the egos of Gehry, KT, MVRDV, etc. are needed for this purpose. Think of the Case Study Houses. Except in this case, it is in response to an actual need – a void.

      • Thumb up Thumb down 0

        it’s a 150 houses … what are the new ways of living? It’s like the twisting tappering skyscraper, it’s not better becasue it looks cool, it has the same organization… same here there is no exploring and no new ways of living… and the case study homes these are not.

  17. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    this is a looming disaster, ill considered and out of place buildings like these have a long history of going badly wrong. social housing etc needs to be very carefully constructed. it should fit its context and reflect its residents and their history.

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