With the help of Brad Pitt and a team of renowned architects, the dream of affordable green homes becomes a reality
In 2007, two years after Katrina devastated New Orleans, Brad Pitt visited the hurricane-ravaged Lower Ninth Ward and pledged to help build new homes in the working-class neighborhood. But not just any homes.
Pitt’s idea was to build sustainable housing—to the highest LEED standard—that would also be affordable. So he brought together an international team of renowned architects, led by GRAFT Architects, to brainstorm on how to make it work. The thinking was, if they could successfully design eco-friendly homes for the inhabitants of the Lower 9th, they would then roll out the concept in other communities around the U.S.
The nonprofit Pitt started, Make It Right (makeitright.org), was born out of those initial meetings. They broke ground on the first home a year later, in March 2008 and six were completed just five months after that, in August of that year.
Since then, Make It Right has built 100 homes—which cost, on average, $150,000—in New Orleans, with plans for 50 more. They’ve completed a 56-unit rental building for disabled veterans in Newark, NJ. Last November, they began renovations on an abandoned school (pictured above) and created 50 rental units called Bancroft School Apartments in Kansas City. The project features solar panels, no-VOC paint, Cradle to Cradle-certified flooring and carpet, energy-efficient windows and reclaimed brick walkways. And Make It Right is working with the Sioux and Assiniboine tribes of Fort Peck, MT, to build 20 sustainable homes on their reservation, with plans for more.
All homes built by the nonprofit are powered by renewable energy. All are LEED Platinum. They feature SIPS, a high performance building system used in floors, walls and roofs. The homes are Cradle to Cradle-inspired and the architects work with each community to meet their needs, and to hire and train local workers. The nonprofit has partnered with architects including David Adjaye, Frank Gehry, Hitoshi Abe, Kieran Timberlake, and many more, who donate their time and their designs.
“We want to change the building industry to make energy-efficient, healthy homes affordable for everyone,” a spokesperson says.