This article was originally published on CommonEdge as "Rob Walker on the Mistakes of Brad Pitt's Make it Right."
I will start with a confession: I was part of the fawning media swarm that lauded and applauded the accomplishments of Make It Right, Brad Pitt’s bold attempt to rebuild a portion of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. The project was, it seemed once, one of the few post-Katrina success stories coming out of that flood-ravaged community.
In Metropolis Magazine's latest - and last - installment in their annual design cities review, the focus is not on output or culture but on cities themselves as the point of inspiration. For the designers surveyed, these were the cities that made their hearts beat a little faster; the ones that remained in their minds and wormed their way into their work.
New Orleans is an architectural paradise. From Baroque to Modern, the buildings of New Orleans tell the story of a peculiar American city heavily influenced by its French, Spanish and Caribbean roots. Its diverse historical influences have impacted the urban fabric as much as the culture itself. A hub for celebratory gatherings such as bachelor and bachelorette parties, weddings, music festivals and Mardi Gras, Louisiana's largest and oldest city has long claimed tourism as a significant part of its vibrant economy.
The resilient city has a reputation for its food, music and focus on fun, but the infamous Katrina transformed New Orleans into an architectural conundrum: a problem to be solved and a chance for architects (from around the world) to contemplate the future of one of the United State’s biggest ports.
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The damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 can never be forgotten, but 10 years after the rebuilding of New Orleans started in 2006, a new architecture has emerged with cutting-edge designs being widely celebrated in the media. The Make It Right foundation (founded after the disaster to help with structural recovery) commissioned first-class architects such as Morphosis, Shigeru Ban, and David Adjaye to design safe and sustainable houses for New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward. But Richard Campanella and Cassidy Rosen worry that this vision is detached from reality.
Today marks 10 years since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, setting off what was among the most significant catastrophes to strike the United States in the 21st Century. New Orleans' flood defenses failed, causing the loss of over 1,400 lives and billions of dollars in property damage.
Naturally, such a disaster takes some time to recover from, for individuals but also for a city as a whole, and so for the past decade New Orleans has been a case study for cities to show them how to recover, rebuild and move on - at certain times serving as both an example of good practice and a warning of "what not to do." On the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, here's a round-up of stories about the rebuilding of a city from around the web.
In a recent interview with NOLA, Pitt discusses some of these criticisms, reflecting on the growth of the organization, and the changes it has made. Find out about Pitt’s evolving perspective, after the break.