In the last few weeks, a number of reactionary architectural commentators have come out of the woodwork to denounce what they see as the currently negative direction of contemporary architecture. They claim that architecture needs to be “rebuilt” or that it is “imploding.” From their indications, architecture is on life-support, taking its last breath. The critique they offer is that contemporary architecture has become (or always was?) insensitive to users, to site conditions, to history—hardly a novel view. Every few years, this kind of frontal assault on the value of contemporary architecture is launched, but the criticisms this time seem especially shallow and misplaced. Surveying the contemporary global architecture scene, I actually feel that we’re in a surprisingly healthy place, if you look beyond the obvious showpieces. We’ve escaped from the overt dogmas of the past, we’ve renewed our focus on issues of the environment and social agency, we’re more concerned than ever with tectonics and how to build with quality. But the perennial critics of contemporary architecture appear not to have examined that deeply, nor that thoughtfully either. And unfortunately the various rebuttals to their critiques, ostensibly in support of modern and experimental architecture, have been ham-handed and poorly argued.
On the wave of Frank Gehry’s proclamation that “98% of architecture is pure shit,” and a recent New York Times op-ed that declared architecture has lost its relevance with the general public, National Civic Art Society president Justin Shubow has joined the conversation by stating that “the profession has lost its way.”
“Architecture is suffering a crisis of confidence,” stated Shubow in his recent Forbes article. “It is never easy to admit that one is mistaken, still worse that one’s god has failed. It is all the harder when one’s false worldview has been the justification for one’s high social rank. But the growing crisis of confidence is a sign that a cherished dogma will finally be abandoned: The superiority of the architect to the common man.”
Make It Right, the organization founded by Brad Pitt to provide housing to those in need, has unveiled 5 designs for their new initiative in the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana. The designs – by GRAFT, Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative, Architecture for Humanity, Method Homes and Living Homes - are inspired by cradle-to-cradle principles, will be LEED Platinum rated and have been developed alongside community consultation with the Sioux and Assiniboine tribes of Fort Peck.
The organization is planning to build 20 new homes on the reservation, as well as developing a sustainable masterplan for the entire 3,300 square mile reservation, with construction planned to start later this year.
More on the development of Make It Right’s Fort Peck initiative after the break.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA), Make It Right, St. Bernard Project and Architecture for Humanity has formed a strategic partnership to launch “Designing Recovery,” an ideas competition created to aid in the rebuild of sustainable and resilient communities.
The Make It Right organization, Brad Pitt’s LEED and Cradle-to-Cradle inspired efforts to bring sustainable homes to communities in need, is probably best known for its much publicized work in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans in the post-Hurrican Katrina climate. But the breadth of this organization’s work stretches beyond this community rebuilding project. Make It Right (MIR) has worked within several disadvantaged communities in an effort to build sustainable and supportive homes and neighborhoods through the development of residences, community centers and infrastructural elements, and by providing training and counseling.
MIR is working in Newark, New Jersey bringing residences to disabled veterans; in Kansas city, Montana the organization is rebuilding a blighted community within the neighborhood of Manheim Park; and most recently is partnering with Sioux and Assiniboine Native American tribe members to build sustainable homes on the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana.
More on Make It Right’s new work on the Fort Peck Reservation after the break.
The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and the Make It Right Foundation have issued a $250,000 challenge for manufacturers to design a product for the affordable housing market, which is both safe for human and environmental health and is designed for re-use. The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2013.
No more “waste” for incinerators, oceans, or landfills. We’re asking innovators to rethink common materials–such as PVC–and come up with revolutionary new products that can meet or beat conventional products on the basis of price, performance, availability and “eco-effectiveness.”
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 Hurricane Katrina 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…
Since Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans, leaving devastation in its wake, the Make It Right Foundation has been working to redevelop the Lower 9th Ward by recruiting world-renowned architects (from Frank Gehry to Shigeru Ban) to the cause. The foundation, the brain-child of actor Brad Pitt, aims to design houses that aren’t just temporary solutions, but rather parts of an on-going process of sustainable, community development.
Learn more about the Make It Right Foundation‘s goals and progress, and check out some of the starchitect-deisgned prototypes that will eventually make up a 150-house neighborhood, in our ArchDaily original infographic, after the break.
When we introduced you to the Bancroft School in September, the topic of one of the SEED Network’s awesome mini-documentaries, or SEEDocs, the revitalization project was still in development. However, this Saturday’s ground-breaking ceremony means that this innovative community complex will soon be a reality.
The building, which was an elementary school from 1904 until it fell into disrepair and closed in 1999, is located in one of Kansas City’s most neglected, lower income neighborhoods: Manheim Park. However, thanks to the joint-efforts of the Make It Right Foundation, BNIM Architects (the AIA’s 2011 Firm of the Year), and the Historic Manheim Park Neighborhood Association, the once asbestos-ridden school will soon be the center of a revitalization project to transform the urban landscape.
More on the Bancroft Project, after the break…
Design Corps and SEED (Social Economic Environmental Design) have released the latest installment of SEEDocs, their series of awesome, mini-documentaries that highlight inspirational stories of award-winning public interest design projects.
While June’s doc featured an incredible community garden in New Orleans, designed/built with help from the Tulane School of Architecture’s Tulane City Center, this month focuses on the revitalization of an abandoned, abestos-ridden school in Manheim Park, a low-income, neglected neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri.
Make It Right is proud to announce the completion of the Frank Gehry-designed, New Orleans’ 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 Hurricane Katrina.
“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.
We have told you in the past about Brad Pitt´s Make It Right Foundation. They have 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.
At Make it Right, they submitted their idea to the Pepsi Refresh Project. The most voted idea will receive $250,000. If Make It Right would receive this grant, the money will go towards continuing to help build affordable, sustainable, high-designed and storm resistant homes for families in the Lower Ninth Ward. So click here to vote for their idea and help them carry out this great project!
GRAFT was one of the first practices that started working with Make It Right to redevelop the Lower 9th Ward area in New Orleans. Their single family home design has been picked by 3 homeowners so far, with 2 already finished and 1 in construction phase.
GRAFT’s proposal for the new set of duplex homes we featured yesterday, has LEED Platinum certification and in my opinion proposes an interesting strategy to connect with the street level, mandatory to all MIR projects.
Architect’s description and more images after the break:
Atelier Hitoshi Abe shared with us their duplex house for the new phase of the Make It Right project we presented earlier. A renovated version of a shotgun house, the Hotlinks project offers several configurations depending on the client´s needs as described on the architect´s description and diagrams after the break:
William McDonough + Partners duplex home for Make It Right
Brad Pitt´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:
It’s no mystery that you don´t need to graduate from architecture school at university to become an architect – just ask Le Corbusier, Mies or Frank Lloyd Wright.
Clearly Brad Pitt didn´t go to school either, but trust me that I wouldn´t be too surprised to see him receiving an architect award or the honorary title from a renowned US university. Who´s more “architect”? The one that went to school and never built, o the one who didn´t went to school and builds?
Despite the fact that he states that “whilst acting is my career, architecture is my passion”, not only he has more work that most of the architects i know. As if announcing a 800 room sustainable hotel in Dubai wasn´t enough, he spent his visit to Washington DC meeting senators and congressmen -such as Nancy Pelosi, as pictured above- to gather support for this project/foundation Make It Right, aiming to develop housing prototypes for the reconstruction of New Orleans.
This project works with practices such as MVRDV, Shigeru Ban and Morphosis, who developed 13 prototypes for the first stage to consolidate a 150-house neighborhood, having 90 financed so far thanks to donations to his foundation.
On previous news about Brad Pitt and his passion for architecture, several people commented that this was just an actor´s caprice… I would take this more seriously. The fact of studying at an architecture school or not seems very irrelevant to me, compared to the smart way on using his fame and exposition to develop and finance architectural projects, such as his house, a multi million dollar hotel, restaurants and interiors with Frank Ghery or a foundation to rebuild New Orleans, getting goverment´s attention and raising dozens of millions of dollars, something that lots of architects would really like to.
I´ve heard of very succesful architects coming from totallly unrelated backgrounds, such as finances… it seems that Hollywood and architecture don´t work bad either.
But beyond the anecdotal aspect, I think that what´s remarkable on this is how an “outsider” to the architecture world is able to give us a good teaching on how to origin, develop and finance an interesting project such as MIR making a good use of his available resources, such as public image and influence on this case.