The Debate Over Making It Right in the Lower Ninth Ward

The Float House / Morphosis, Make It RIght © Iwan Baan

Ever since the New Republic published Lydia DePillis’s piece entitled “If you Rebuild it, They Might Not Come” - a criticism of the progress of Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation – numerous blogs and journals have been in a uproar, defending Make It Right’s efforts at rebuilding the vastly devastated Lower Ninth Ward and presenting a much more forgiving perspective on the progress of the neighborhood since the engineering disaster that exacerbated the effects of in 2005. To date, 86 LEED Platinum homes have been designed and constructed by world-renowned architects, including Frank Gehry and Morphosis, at a cost of approximately $24 million.  Make It Right has promised to build up to 150 such homes, but DePillis‘s article points out that amenities in the neighborhood are low and the number of residents returning to the neighborhood is dwindling.  Make It Right has made a commitment and the debate that ensues questions whether it is going far enough in delivering its promise to rebuilding community.

Read on for more on the Make It Right debate…

Make It Right completes Frank Gehry-designed Duplex

© Chad Chenier Photography / Make It Right

Make It Right is proud to announce the completion of the Frank Gehry-designed, ’ duplex in the Lower 9th Ward. The colorful, LEED Platinum home is part of an affordable and sustainable community that is currently being developed by Brad Pitt’s Make It Right foundation within the NOLA neighborhood most devastated from .

“I really believe in what Brad is doing for the community and was honored to be included,” said Frank Gehry. “I wanted to make a house that I would like to live in and one that responded to the history, vernacular and climate of New Orleans. I love the colors that the homeowner chose. I could not have done it better.”

Continue after the break for more.

Lamar Advertising Corporate Headquartes / Eskew+Dumez+Ripple

© Timothy Hursley

Architects: Eskew+Dumez+Ripple
Location: , Louisiana,
Consultants: Henderson Engineers Inc. Fox-Nesbit Engineering, Spackman, Mossop+Michaels, ABMB Engineers, Inc.
Completion: 2012
Client: Lamar Advertising Company
Project Size: 115,000 square feet
Photographs: Timothy Hursley

Make it Right Homes in NOLA

BiLD / Photographs © James Ewing/OTTO

Over the past five years, the Make it Right Foundation in has been realizing its commitment to build 150 affordable, green storm resistant homes for families living in the Lower 9th Ward. The foundation, established by Brad Pitt, has completed seventy-five homes with the time and efforts donated by local and international architects such as Gehry Partners, Morphosis, Kieran Timberlake, Pugh+Scarpa, and McDonough+Partners.

Photographer James Ewing shared the documentation of his visit to the Make it Right Homes of New Orleans, citing the designs he most admired by Shigeru Ban, Adjaye Associates, Hitoshi Abe, and BiLD.

More on Make it Right and the homes after the break.

Acadia Parish Conference Center / Trahan Architects

Courtesy of Trahan Architects

Located to the north-east of , a small town in known to be the “Rice Capital of America”, the Acadia Parish Conference Center by Trahan Architects will mediate the threshold between the urban development to the west and the agricultural fields to the east. Envisioned as an extension of the landscape, the center creates a harmonic balance between the two environments, expressing the importance of local agricultural.

Continue after the break for more on the Acadia Parish Conference Center.

3 American Cities: Future Forecasting

© Wikimedia Commons / Jonik

The AIA recently published a reprint from the National Associates Committee journal Forward by author Wellington Reiter, FAIA. The hot topic essay goes into great detail discussing how three U.S. – Detroit, Phoenix, and – are serving as examples of the impacts of adverse planning and general continuation of unsustainable behavior.  While in times past these cities have flourished, and grew on the assumption that the trend would continue inevitably, they are sharp reminders of the consequences of naivety in regards to long term sustainability. More after the break.

Bayou-Luminescence Installation / ISSSStudio + PATH

Courtesy of +

Bayou-luminescence, one of ten site-specific installations commissioned by the New Orleans chapter of the American Institute of Architects, was a collaboration between Igor Siddiqui, the principal of the Austin-based design practice ISSSStudio and Matt Hutchinson, the principal of San-Francisco-based firm PATH. The project was included as a part of DesCours, the annual architecture and art event on view at various locations in city from December 2 through 11, 2011. More images and architects’ description after the break.

DesCours: A Presentation of AIA New Orleans

Courtesy of AIA

DesCours is a free, public, ten-night architecture and art event now in its fifth year, held December 2-December 11 in New Orleans.

This event invites internationally renowned architects and artists to create architecture installations within ‘hidden’ locations in the heart of New Orleans, including private courtyards, rooftops, abandoned buildings and walkways, all locations normally unseen, inaccessible or unused by the public.

More information on the event after the break.

Richardson Memorial Hall Green Renovation Plans

Courtesy of

Fundraising is now underway for a $23.9 million green makeover of Richardson Memorial Hall, the century old home of the Tulane University School of Architecture.

The renovation will include maximizing the light and airiness of the building, installing solar panels and cisterns to collect rainwater for irrigation and, possibly, plumbing use, and many other sustainable strategies. Additionally, IBM Smart Building technology will monitor and adjust the building’s water consumption, lighting and other systems to optimize their performance while lowering the building’s carbon footprint. More information on the project after the break.

URBANbuild / Tulane University

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Check out a preview we spotted on PublicInterestDesign of ’s School of Architecture URBANbuild program, a total collaborative effort of “individuals, organizations, and businesses committed to revitalizing New Orleans’ rich cultural and architectural heritage.” Working with Professor Byron Mouton, Make It Right and Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans, students have designed and built several LEED-certified homes such as 04 featured in the clip.  This particular residence is situated in Central City of New Orleans and completely breaks with the traditional “shotgun homes” that line the streets.  The young homeowner, Tami, appreciates the students’ talents and abilities to go beyond what the neighborhood, and even the city, is comfortable with to create a new urban identity.  Challenged by Mouton to introduce new ideas, the students have created a beautiful residence that they can certainly be proud of and one that Tami loves   View her story and a bit of the project’s journey in the video.

Tulane School of Architecture 2011-2012 Lecture Series

Courtesy of

Tulane School of Architecture has announced their 2011-2012 school year lecture series featuring Rafael Moneo, Billie Tsien, Adam Yarinsky and others, including a string of lectures on Urban Innovations co-sponsored by The Murphy Institute. More information on the lectures after the break.

2011 DesCours Request for Proposals

Courtesy of AIA

Now in it’s 5th year, DesCours will be holding its annual event in New Orleans from December 2nd-December 11th, 2011. DesCours is a ten-day, contemporary architecture and art event that looks towards the future in showcasing experimental, cutting-edge new media and interactive installations while embracing New Orleans rich cultural heritage. During DesCours, internationally recognized architects, designers and artists transform unique, hidden spaces within the French Quarter and Central Business District into destination places for visitors and locals alike.

There are a total of 11-13 artists and architects (individuals and teams) that will be selected through this proposal process, which is due by August 19th at 5pm, and by invitation to participate by creating installations for French Quarter courtyards, downtown building lobbies, rooftops, walkways and other ‘hidden’ New Orleans spaces. Overall, we are seeking installations that react and respond both to the historic nature of the sites, and to the public audience that views them. More event description after the break.

Green Homes and Sustainable Communities Conference

Hosting the 6th Annual and Sustainable Communities Conference, the city of will bring together a variety of individuals from financiers and policy makers to developers and technical experts all focused on redefining affordable housing and community development. In addition to the symposium’s national focus, this year’s event will highlight some of the Gulf Coast’s most innovative green affordable housing projects. The and Sustainable Communities Conference will be next month, July 14th and 15th, further details can be found here.

NOLA Modern Proposal / GOATstudio

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’ Lower 9th Ward represents a rather new phenomenon in American urbanism; physical tabula rasa paired with a metaphysical fabric of emotion, history, and tragedy that is no less significant than the physical emptiness. That emptiness has boldy been broken by the Make It Right foundation. Regardless of one’s opinion of their planning or design practices, the context that MIR has created in the 9th Ward has it’s own richness that is redefining the neighborhood’s physical presence while ensuring the continuity of the metaphysical through resident outreach. It is this new context that should now be respected and preserved. Unwittingly, MIR has sparked and nurtured the NOLA[modern] movement, defined by contemporary material, formal, and tectonic gestures with a thoughtful respect for regional typologies. This proposal by GOATstudio, for the DesignByMany challenge which ArchDaily sponsored, is the next entry in the soon to be expanding catalogue of NOLA[modern]. More images and description after the break.

In Progress: The J‐House / AEDS

rendering

The J‐House uses a historically standard housing lot: 30×150 feet. The original site for the J‐House is located in a designated flood zone as is common with many housing sites throughout the Southern Louisiana region. Recent FEMA studies have concluded that a vast range of housing sites are currently 9‐feet under sea level. The original site for the J‐House is no different.

Architect: AEDS | Ammar Eloueini Digit-all Studio
Location: 918 Upperline Street, New Orleans, Louisiana,
Project Team: Ammar Eloueini, Jana Masset, David Merlin, Dan Kautz, Jamie Lookabaugh, Surawat Hanthawichai
Architect of Record: Wisznia A+D
Sturctural Engineer: Buro Happold New York, Craft Engineering Studio New York
Photographs: Courtesy of AEDS

AIA Pavilion / Gernot Riether

Courtesy of Gernot Riether

Every year, the AIA stages a competition for an intervention that brings to life the historic city of New Orleans. This year the institute selected a scheme by Gernot Riether that proposed a series of glowing spherical enclosures sited within the hidden courtyards of the city’s distinctive French Quarter. They would be illuminated in the evening, dramatically modulating the host environment and bringing attention to these romantic, mysterious and usually private spaces, typically located deep in the block, away from the street.

Architect: Gernot Riether
Location: New Orleans, ,
Project Team: Gernot Riether, Valerie Bolen, Rachel Dickey, Emily Finau, Tasnouva Habib, Knox Jolly, Pei-Lin Liao, Keith Smith, April Tann
Photographs: Courtesy of Gernot Riether

Video: A Plea for Modernism

Scheduled for demolition in Summer 2011, the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School is a treasured piece of regional modernism in . Designed by Charles Colbert, the school has served the historic African-American neighborhood of Tremé since it opened in 1955. It is just one of over thirty public schools that were constructed at that time.  These schools were designed by architects who practiced a regional modernism, incorporating innovative design for circulation, ventilation and lighting.  Of the thirty schools only four are still standing, three of which are threatened with demolition (including Phillis Wheatley).  DOCOMOMO Louisiana is advocating for the restoration through adaptive reuse for the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School. “A Plea For Modernism” was created by Evan Mather and is narrated by actor Wendell Pierce.

Low Cost, Low Energy House for New Orleans / sustainable.TO

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Hosted by Design By Many, the Passive House for competition challenged designers to design a single-family dwelling that is sustainable in the broadest sense of the term: affordable to build and purchase, long-lasting, with minimal impact on the local environment, and affordable to heat and cool throughout the life of the building.

The winning proposal, designed by sustainable.TO, is based on the vernacular shotgun typology. The affordable, low-energy, single-family low cost, low energy house will help to revitalize the existing neighborhood of the Lower Ninth Ward. More images and architects’ description after the break.