“Brad Pitt Houses” in New Orleans get mixed reactions

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Brad Pitt and his Make It Right foundation got hit in a weird way in the New York Times over the weekend. The NYT sent someone from the “Travel” section down to New Orleans to check out what New Orleanians are calling “Brad Pitt Houses”. These are the dozen or so “green” homes Make It Right has put up in the lower Ninth Ward. The travel writer got mixed reviews of the homes… and yet… I don’t know, it’s a weird article. The full NYT piece is here, but here are some of the highlights:

AL ANDREWS, who lives on Tennessee Street in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, said he didn’t mind the tour buses coming through his neighborhood, but he wished the visitors “would give some of what they pay to the community.” Mr. Andrews lives in one of the brightly colored, modernist houses rising on a small patch of the Lower Ninth, four years after it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

In 2007, frustrated by the slow pace of rebuilding in the Lower Ninth, Brad Pitt set up a foundation called Make It Right; the foundation then commissioned 13 architecture firms to design affordable, green houses. The organization plans to build 150 homes, all for returning Lower Ninth residents. So far, just 15 of them are occupied, but those 15 make a big impression.

Indeed, from the main route into the Lower Ninth, the Claiborne Avenue Bridge, it’s impossible to miss the Brad Pitt Houses, as everyone here calls them. They are sprawling, angular buildings in bold hues not usually seen outside a gelateria. Monuments to the city’s resilience, and to Hollywood’s big heart, they are also New Orleans’s newest tourist attraction.

“Brad Pitt’s neighborhood” is a beehive of activity, with builders and landscapers vastly outnumbering residents. A sign in front of each of the houses gives the name and city of its architect. One, called the Float House, was designed by the Pritzker Prize-winner Thom Mayne of Los Angeles. The main part of the house is built to rise with surging flood waters, on pylons that keep it from coming loose. It’s difficult to see the innovative foundation, but unusual external features are easy to spot, such as a kind of trellis cut into intricate patterns and painted turquoise, set against the raspberry-hued building.

Nearby, an angular house by GRAFT, a multinational architecture firm, features a porch enclosure that looks as though it had been cracked open by a storm, an unfortunate visual resonance. A house by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has a private courtyard space between the living room and bedrooms, but none of the detailing that would make it feel like a part of New Orleans.

Indeed, the houses seem better suited to an exhibition of avant-garde architecture than to a neighborhood struggling to recover. A number of designers I talked to, some of whom had visited the neighborhood, lamented the absence of familiar forms that would have comforted returning residents.

James Dart, a Manhattan-based architect who was born and raised in New Orleans, described the houses as “alien, sometimes even insulting,” adding, “the biggest problem is that they are not grounded in the history of New Orleans architecture.” But, like other architects I spoke to, he expressed admiration for Mr. Pitt. “He deserves a great deal of credit,” Mr. Dart said, adding that Mr. Pitt had “done more for New Orleans” than any government agency.

Jennifer Pearl, a broker who has several houses for sale in the Lower Ninth, has a practical view. “Brad has the very best intentions,” she said. “However, had he come here with houses that looked like what had been here before, he probably could have had four times, five times as many houses up by now.”

Another issue with the houses (except for Mr. Mayne’s) is their elevation: to protect them from future floods, they have been built on stilts that turn their front porches into catwalks. The goal of porches is to create a sense of community, and that’s hard to do when neighbors and passersby are literally overshadowed.

“It’s like New York — you know, the skyscrapers,” said Ms. LeBlanc, who lives in a single-story house next to one of the much larger Make It Right creations, like a Mini Cooper boxed in by SUVs. “And there are going to be more,” she added.

To most residents, the construction is simply good news. “It’s hard living here now, but it’s going to be worth it,” said Melba Leggett-Barnes, a cafeteria worker, who is concerned about crime in the neighborhood. The lack of commercial activity is also disappointing. “We used to be able to go to the corner store,” she said. “Now we don’t have a grocery; we don’t have a laundry.”

Ms. Leggett-Barnes, whose house was designed by the Philadelphia firm KieranTimberlake, is — literally — the poster child for Make It Right; her image, plastered on bus-shelter signs around the city, urges former residents to return to the neighborhood.

“There may be people who want to move back,” she said, “but don’t know that it’s possible.”

[From The New York Times]

I don’t really get the criticism… so, some people are upset that the architecture is not the same classic New Orleans stuff. Okay. But the classic New Orleans architecture was drowned. Perhaps using different styles in a different way isn’t such a bad thing? And the complaints about how the skyline is shifting? Same thing – your city was built below sea level, folks. I’m sorry, and I feel for you, but I don’t feel get the complaints about a structure being tall enough to survive another levee breech. Gawker points out that the lesson could be: “Volunteerism sucks sometimes. Even if you’re Brad Pitt, to someone, somewhere, you still can’t do the right thing, no matter how hard you try. Depressing, right?”

Gawker also gets a quote from a genuine New Orleans resident/blogger, The Cajun Boy, who says: “I have absolutely nothing but respect and admiration for Pitt for all he’s done back home. So often we as a culture fixate on the endlessly retarded ways celebrities spend their money and often overlook the instances where they use their money and influence to do genuine good. Contrast Pitt with Nic Cage, another celebrity who bought property in the area. Pitt’s become a true part of the community while Cage’s houses are now up for auction because he has a fetish for stupid sh-t: shrunken skulls, exotic cars, etc. Brad Pitt should be lauded for what he’s done. I personally would run through a wall of fire for him. And then I’d cook him up a pot of crawfish etoufee, because that’s just how we do where I come from.” Well – it looks like the Brangelina is now causing controversy in Travel sections. That’s how bad it’s gotten!

Brad Pitt photographed at the Clinton Global Initiative in September, discussing Make It Right. Additional photos of the “Brad Pitt Houses” in New Orleans courtesy of MakeItRight.org (additional photos at website).

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67 Responses to ““Brad Pitt Houses” in New Orleans get mixed reactions”

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  1. YeaRight! says:

    Brad Pitt isn’t using HIS money. He is taking donations, and using a chunk of money (up to 7 million dollars) from the stimulus money,the US government handed out. OUR children/grandchildren will be responsible for paying back. HE will never have to pay back this money, because he has all these tax shelters called foundations that he dumps his money into! These aren’t houses being built to give away or being built for low income people…this is an INVESTMENT scheme, people have to secure a mortgage for one of these homes upward of 175 grand…
    Why is it the media keep stating that BRAD alone is the only person who helped these people in New Orleans? What about Habitat for Humanity? Brad has promised for 3 yrs that 150 homes would be built “by the end of the year”..that has been his statement for 3 yrs now. Only 15 have been built, and only 8 have been sold! Why can’t the media be responsible in actually investigating this, instead of doing the same regurgitating and back patting of a guy that is swindling not only the US taxpayers, the people who donated, and the public at large with this BULLCHIT that Brad is being charitable? There is NOTHING charitable about this. It is an investment scheme. Pure and simple.

  2. Lita says:

    I like the second two houses but initially when I glanced at the first little thumb nail pic I thought it was a (rather incongruous) photo of an 18 wheeler truck! Hehe.

  3. Molly B says:

    Looking at the pictures of the houses, I can see why they would not be to everyone’s taste but I agree with you, Kaiser, the NYT article was strange. The point of the article seemed to be just that—after spending tons of his own money and time, the house are . . . not to everyone’s taste.

  4. Firestarter says:

    Well if the architects are so brilliant and committed, then they could have designed homes more in keeping with the previous look of the area.

    Kudos for the effort, but I can see where the architecture is ugly and the colors are ridiculous.I have no way of knowing myself, however, I had heard that the homes are not that well built and some doubt that they could withstand a hurricane any better than the previous structures.

    Thank you moderators, for removing the comment by Babs, which was in very poor taste!

  5. Celebitchy says:

    @Firestarter – you are right about “babs.” Racist remarks get people banned with no second chances.

  6. jules says:

    the problem is not how they look but that they were built at all. the site is, unlike the majority of new orleans, below sea level. it was developed mindlessly in the 60s by building levees to gain buildable land. nonetheless, the area was and is an economically poor one since it sits on an undesirable flood plain. flood plains should not be developed! you may see pitt as trying to do good, but actually it’s unintelligent badness for pr and ‘wanna be architect’s sake. a mere 15 homes for photographs and now he wants the gov to pick up the remaining 65mil tab to complete this ecological disaster.

  7. Anak says:

    Don’t worry. We can change the music “the lady is a tramp” to “the lady’s-man is a tramp”.

  8. Dorothy says:

    I think anything being built is a step forward, I like the houses but I also like modern styles.

    I agree with it being annoying that only Brad doing things for NO is being talked about, what about Harry Connick JR?

  9. Lantana says:

    I think you should ask any New Yorker about a “shifting skyline”. New Orleans’ “shifting skyline” is a blessing.

  10. Ursula says:

    Good for him that someone out there gets a roof over their heads. What bugs me is people who exploit misery and charity for their own personal glorification. You can’t fault them for helping for whatever reason but it still bugs the hell out of me.

  11. Tess says:

    This is an illuminating moment!!!

    For Pitt and others, it’s fairly easy to take potshots at…well, let’s see…the prior administration, for example.

    But real solutions to complex problems aren’t quick or easy. Complaining and jawboning are the easy part. Soaking up praise for their “good deeds” in advance of delivering is easy, too.

  12. Enonymous says:

    @YeaRight!, well said. Those are some fugly ass houses, I take it might have been Brad’s ‘architectural idea’ to build them like that. Fool!

  13. Cinderella says:

    I don’t care how well-built they are, they are absolutely hideous. Volunteerism doesn’t have to suck if the volunteer doesn’t turn the project into his own architectural design fantasy.

  14. DD says:

    I’m an idiot when it comes to how houses are built but couldn’t they hide the stilts somehow, maybe fill it with concrete? It looks really weird, almost like it’s unfinished. oh and the first pic really does look like a truck.

  15. snowball says:

    I always remember what Jennifer Aniston said after divorcing Brad – something to the effect of now I can buy a comfortable couch. He has a distinctly minimalist modern taste and it looks like at least one of those houses is right up his alley.

    They aren’t something I’d want in my neighborhood, but then again, my neighborhood hasn’t been totally wiped out either. He has to get some credit for, if nothing else, continuing to raise awareness of how far NO still has to go. And for giving 15 families someplace to live, even if it’s sort of ugly.

    I adore Harry Connick, Jr., and admire him for what he’s continuing to do for his hometown. I see him pop up from time to time when there are stories that get picked up by the network about how NO is recovering, but by and large, he just keeps quiet about what he’s doing.

    I still can’t fault Brad, at least he’s doing SOMETHING. Even if it’s for self-glorification, it’s something.

  16. Firestarter says:

    Did they have to paint them those wretched colors?

  17. QB says:

    Is a house , i’m pretty sure that someone that haves no house would love to have that fuggly house to live in. If they don’t like them well bad for them , they can go and look for another place to live.

    If Mr.Dart does not like the houses and finds them insulting , he can go build it himself and pay fo them too.

  18. Mairead says:

    Filling in the stilts with concrete in an area with a very high water-table is a chronically bad idea. That’s if I’m reading that comment right? I think it’s just as bad as building in a flood plain in the first instance – the more construction you have the higher you raise the water table. And the more run-off through impermeable surfaces, the quicker you create flash floods and don’t allow water to be filtered by soil as it returns to the water table.

    It’s a lesson that nobody wants to listen to no matter whether you’re in New Orleans, New Dehli or Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

    As regards the design: yes some of the designs are externally less pleasing than others. Part of the proof of the pudding is on the inside. If you had any concept of what absolute dirge comes through planning sections that look safe and saleable on the outside, but just won’t work on the inside, like me you’d take something quirky that might have a sensible living space internally. Anyhow, colours can be changed.

    Make It Right is not going to be the silver bullet to rehome those made homeless in the Lower 9th, for that there are basic kit houses like Habitat For Humanity, which will get a roof over your head, but will longterm require rebuilding within 50-70 years in any event, or could be susceptible to damage should a similar, or worse, mix of events happen again. Which, if the tides rise, it will sooner rather than later.

  19. Jag says:

    Wow, those houses seem like “sitting egos,” not “recovering community.” Had everyone involved kept the perspective of building affordable, better technology homes, they’d definitely have more than 15 done by now. I applaud the light that’s being shed on the area because of Brad, but I can guarantee you that Brad will never be my architect. lol

    @ YeaRight! ~ I agree with every word you’ve said.

  20. bella says:

    The problem is that no one (Brad and his all-star team of “architecture firms”) didn’t talk to the displaced residents and ask them what they would like their new homes to look like. If they wanted to live in a modern art museum, then spot on, Brad. If they wanted something similar to what they had before, FAIL.

    I understand (from what I’ve read) that he’s a very artsey-fartsey kind of guy; OK, whatever. But don’t force it on hurricane victims in the guise of charity. Not cool. And if you really want people to return to their neighbourhoods, why not ask them what they would like those neighbourhoods to be?

    Love, love, LOVE Harry Connick Jr. (and what about all the jazz & blues musicians quietly doing their part?) and all he’s doing to help without the need for media attention!

  21. crash2GO2 says:

    Erm…if he really just wanted to get people back into homes without all fingers pointing back to him, he wouldn’t have orchestrated these eye-sores. The look of these houses don’t benefit anyone but him and maybe the architects who designed them.

    People are always going to live where they want to live, and we might as well accept that. On flood plains, fault lines and in the lava paths of volcanoes. IMO to decry the rebuilding of NO is attempt to deny generations their way of living. It’s where their industry is, their way of life.

  22. annie says:

    The PBS show This Old House did a great remake of a Katrina demolished home in the 9th ward. Why couldn’t these people follow their example?

  23. Cat says:

    Omg! All that money and those houses look like glorified double-wide trailers!
    Thanks for the great info, YeaRight. That puts a whole new perspective on Brad. Now I don’t have to feel bad for not liking him!

  24. GeminiGirl says:

    First of all.. I am not from NOLA.. BUT I visited there over Labor Day weekend with someone who lost everything in Katrina. She took us to see the devestation in the lower Ninth Ward and
    St. Bernards Parrish.
    All I have to say is that the Brad Pitt homes IMHO are very cool. Are they modern? Yes. Are they brighly colored? Yes. But you know what?? A LOT of houses in NO are brightly colored. I think the people should be happy for what he has done and stop complaining.
    And as far as not being like the other houses around..There are NOT many houses still standing. They should be grateful…

  25. jules says:

    “their way of life” is costing you and i untold $ in taxes to build/maintain levees and heightened insurance costs when they flood (among many other costs). the day you are happy to pick up the tab for my share and all the others smart enough to stand up against environmentally disastrous development is the day you can make your ridiculous point.

  26. Essie says:

    I wonder why the NYT even did this article. Very strange. If they wanted to talk about the rebuilding of NOLA, why just pick on the “Brad Pitt” houses? Why not just do an article about all the people/entities who are helping to rebuild NOLA? And why quote people who are complaining? The majority of the people in the Lower Ninth are happy with what Pitt is doing, according to a CNN special from not too long ago. And, really, if you read the article in the Times you will see that the residents aren’t really complaining, it’s the real estate people and architects who were not chosen to design or sell these houses. Sounds more like envy and jealousy than real criticism!!!

    All I can say is, no good deed goes unpunished!!! We pay taxes for FEMA to help people in disasters but our government has done next to nothing for the people of the Lower Ninth Ward. At least some people now have a roof over their heads thanks to “Make it Right” and the homes they have built.

  27. princess pea says:

    Man, if I’d lost everything… I know I’d be more ticked than Al Andrews is about tour buses driving through my recovering neighborhood to sight-see. That seems cold; I hope the tourists empty their wallets when they get off the bus.

    Good on ANYONE doing hard work rebuilding NOLA. I don’t care who you are.

  28. Tess says:

    Essie, dollars to donuts, the NYT, as perfectly unbiased reporters of “all the news that’s fit to print,” (as their masthead proudly states) did this hit job on Brad because they heard the talk about Angie not liking our president.

    So the campaign to diminish the Jolie-Pitts commences.

  29. Raven says:

    YeaRight, you and Mr. Dart and Ms. Pearl are more than free to set up your own projects in New Orleans which appeal to your tastes and ability to raise funds. Let’s see how far you get.

  30. lucy2 says:

    Something is always better than nothing, and I can appreciate the effort.
    However, I have some issues with this particular program.
    First, I think the houses are not attractive, and I agree with the complaint about losing the character of the neighborhood – there are ways to retain some of the historical elements and upgrade to better design standards at the same time. These look more like vanity projects for the architects (and wanna-be architect Pitt) than designs done to actually meet the needs of the homeowners and fit in the context of the area.
    I design homes in a ocean/bay flood plain, the “stilts” are a necessity to get the living space above the flood line, and actually work well. You can enclose them and make non-living space, and there ways to make them look a lot better than they look on those houses.
    Second, the homes are pricey. Other charities in the area are building homes for a fraction of what these cost. LEED certified construction is expensive – they could have incorporated some less strict green materials and methods into more houses for the same money.
    Third, the whole project is so SLOW. They have plenty of funding (millions), and there are a lot of builders all over the country looking for work so they have the labor force, but only 15 have been built so far? Other charities like Habitat and St. Bernard Project are into the hundreds by now.
    Overall I think the idea was good, but the reality of it has a lot of issues. Still better than nothing, but could have been a whole lot better.

  31. Mairead says:

    Interesting alternative viewpoints Bella and Lucy2. I had not considered the lack of consultation.

    And I take the point that they are affordable (in the context of what you get for the money) NOT charity/emergency rehousing projects. But I do think the principle of them being as environmentally low-impact as possible (jerrymandering by suppliers and others aside, which happens, even on pretty well-run conservation projects, like normal vinyl emulsion decanted into tins for pricier breatheable paint being a favourite), is a good one and theoretically would cost that owner far less in the long-run than a similar-sized home.

    And for the record, I donated last year and am a bit surprised that so few have been built.

  32. hatsumomo says:

    Why is everyone hating on the houses?

    I think they look cool, especially the 2nd one, the yellow one. I would love to sit in that porch!

    For all those unfamiliar with the concept or intended design, Avante grade can look pretty cool and have an unexpected warmth. My man’s mom is a huge lover of modernism and when the last of her kids moved out, she completely gutted her 4 bedroom ranch stlyed house into a 2 bedroom wonder. It was so impressive, it was profiled in the San Antonio Express News. And she filled it with glass. A glass fireplace. Blood red dining room walls. Lime shocking green for the kitchen. Orange and yellow for the living room. If I can find a link online I’ll post it.

  33. hatsumomo says:


    But I wonder what the inside of the houses look like. Shame Ms. Leggett-Barnes didnt give a inside tour of her home. And what if anything they plan to do wit the outside of the houses? Any flowers? decorative stones?

    And I should totally email Make it Right urging them to give my man’s mom a call. Only 15 houses so far? She can do better than that! And wayyyyyy cheaper.

  34. Kim says:

    I appreciate the effort, because an ugly house is better than no house, but I can’t help feeling a bit offended by the high-handed way in which the houses were designed.
    There was nothing wrong with the aesthetics of the houses that were there before. They are a part of the culture and community of New Orleans, and were appreciated by many who lived there. The houses were not destroyed because they were poorly built. They were destroyed because the dam was crap.
    “Avant Garde” is a conscious aesthetic choice, and comes with a certain amount of privilege– which these people obviously don’t have. That’s not to say that some wont appreciate the physical aspects of their new homes, but it was very paternalistic to assume that it would be better for them to have these newer, more “cutting edge” designs.
    Beggars can’t be choosers, apparently, so the designer chose what they thought best represented themselves.

  35. Kim says:

    Why are my comments constantly in moderation? I am on a college campus,and no matter what computer I use or what I say, it never gets published. I’m one of 2000!

  36. Firestarter says:

    @Kim- Mine are in perpetual moderation as well, you are not alone!

    P.S yay new games feature!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. lucy2 says:

    While the energy bills are probably very low, I don’t see the savings ever paying for the extra costs incurred by having them be LEED platinum certified. In my limited experience with the LEED for homes program, there are SO many requirements that have to be met and it takes a lot more time and money. I would just rather have them forget about the certification and find a good balance of cost effective, timely construction and green materials and methods.
    I have no issue with avant garde design, I just have never felt that in this situation, where people have been homeless or living in FEMA trailers for years, it was all that appropriate. I think the other groups building in NO are being much more practical.
    I do find it funny that there are so many articles about Pitt leading the sustainable trend, when it’s something that’s been happening in the industry for years, if not decades, now.

  38. teri says:

    Brad has done more than OUR OWN GOVERNMENT. How can people be so dumb as to tell this man what he should do with HIS money? If this money is all tax deductable ask yourself this…why the heck doesn’t everyone with more money to burn do the same? It’s not Brad or Angelina your mad at it’s your stupidity buying into all these tabloids and sites that feed you bs and you buy it hook line and sinker. It’s all about a grown man being critisized for leaving his dead end marriage for another woman. Now you get the he!! off the cross because we need the firewood.

  39. lucy2 says:

    For anyone interested, here is a link to their 2008 financial report.
    If I’m reading it correctly, in 2008 alone they spent over $8 million, and have $17 mil remaining in assets. And don’t forget, they don’t give the houses away, people still have to pay something for them. It seems like with that much money, more would be happening at a faster pace.
    On a side note, they’re also working on community gardens and playgrounds, which I think is wonderful.

  40. teri says:

    So many displaced NO people had little or nothing to begin with, many on welfare letting taxpayers feed,house,medical and numerous other things they got for free. So are you really saying it’s the lowest of the low that are complaining or the mighty who can’t sell the homes that are left standing? Save it because realestate is falling everywhere not just in NO. This all falls back on Jen vs. Angelina bs and it’s getting very old bringing in donating money to the less fortunate. Thanks Jen for being such a coward and not telling the truth.

  41. weirdness says:

    this whole issue is eerily like a scene from the fountainhead

  42. lucy2 says:

    Well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I fail to see how Pitt’s personal life and relationships have anything to do with this and the various points that have been discussed.

  43. Anonymous says:

    He thinks he is god!


    He used this project for promotion! And his kids to!

  44. Cath says:

    What he did was nice, yes, but I think it would have been *really* nice if he had just built a lot of normal looking houses that people would want to live in. I don’t care one way about Brad Pitt but we know he’s into architecture because of what he named his kid, and I have the feeling that he didn’t want his name to be associated with like, run-of-the-mill ranch houses. He built the houses for other people; he designed them for himself.

  45. Cheyenne says:

    bella: The problem is that no one (Brad and his all-star team of “architecture firms”) didn’t talk to the displaced residents and ask them what they would like their new homes to look like.

    According to the Architectural Digest article last January about Make It Right, Brad and the architects had extensive talks with the residents about the design of the houses before building them.

  46. journey says:

    can’t quite understand the anger about 15 houses that aren’t just like the ones that were there before. brad isn’t singlehandedly destroying everything that is good and noble and beautiful about new orleans’ traditional architecture. he built 15 houses in an area that didn’t have many houses left standing. if he were razing bourbon street and putting in double-wide trailers i could see people getting in a tiff.

    it also helps to bear in mind that people were horrified by the eiffel tower when it was being built, horrified by gaudi’s cathedral when it was being built, horrified by frankie wright’s museum when it was being built. if it’s new and different, people are gonna squawk.

  47. Firestarter says:

    Sorry but the houses Make it Right built are hardly in the same league as the Eiffel Tower and Frank Llyod Wright, I get what you are saying, but please, the comparison is ridiculous.

  48. TwinkleToes says:

    Why doesn’t Pitt just go to school (even online) and get a degree to actually become an architect? He has the money and time. I bet if AJ was all about school, he, copy catting everyone he dates, would follow suit. He supposedly has enough college credits but when he’d have to do a final project, he’d probably fail. He’s just dumb for the women he became involved with over the years. All dumb skanks.

  49. princess pea says:

    @ teri – Whoa. Your special brand of crazy is a little frightening. Thanks Jen for being such a coward and not telling the truth.
    Why can’t you let it go? I know you’re just one of many loonies, so maybe just speak for yourself… why can’t YOU let it go? Everyone involved in the situation has.

    Why would you go there in an article about homes being built in New Orleans? What on EARTH does that have to do with the old broken triangle?

  50. Giz says:

    …Not to mention that some of that money came from donations on that were taken at the Make It Right site. Which means I’m paying for housing twice. And you know what, I don’t care. I really don’t care where the money came from as long as it gives housing to people who need it. Since the Feds chose to turn a blind-eye to the weak levies and putting thousands of home and lives at risk, it should be the Fed’s possibility to give these people decent housing.

    Where was all this outrage about monies being put into pockets of the others the previous 8+ years? Apparently, it was okay for others to dibble it away on wars, Haliburton and independent contractor/friends of the Bush admin. Nope, no yelling and screaming then. Don’t put all these deficits on President Obama’s watch!

    And you know what? The next generation will survive. They’ll be a lot smarter and resilient than we are! They will figure it out. So what if they won’t be able to purchase a new iPhone every six months.

  51. Mairead says:

    Although they are not in the same league, I agree with Journey’s point, although I will say, you will find that quite often vested interests can be behind the chattering campaign against a new civic structure. But give it a few years and invariably people will get used to it – they won’t always like it, but it won’t rile up the same emotion.

    @Lucy2 – I’m afraid that I don’t live in the US so I’m not familiar with your building regulations. Is there a website that has a simple version or introduction to the LEED certification you’re on about? And you’re absolutely right, sustainable development has been a goal in urban planning and design way before Braddie-boy decided to become it’s cheerleader.
    And I wholeheartedly agree with your comment that his private life has nothing to do with the project at hand. Might as well be whistling in the wind with some of this lot though.

    I do think that we should remember that this is only one project amongst a number aimed at rebuilding New Orleans in a sustainable and sensible manner. The others have their own aims and objectives – ones that the majority of the posters here agree with. Which is deadly.

    But the Make It Right project from the get-go has an alternative vision and objective. And those of us who contributed to it, as well as/instead of any other project did so because we agreed with the principles and felt that this was an opportunity to give a real alternative to the identikit track housing so beloved of many here. It’s not meant rehome the entire of the Lower 9th.

  52. Essie says:

    Tess, I hear you!!! I don’t understand this recent movement to destroy the Jolie-Pitts either. It’s not just the ragmags but also the mainstream press . . . NYT, Vanity Fair and Newsweek (with a viral attack on Zahara recently). I don’t get it. Is it because both Angelina and Brad refuse to kowtow to them? Are the Jolie-Pitts too powerful? I don’t understand.

    Cheyenne, thanks for replying to the person who said the residents were not consulted. They WERE consulted, over many, many months. They were told the houses being built by Make it Right would be “green” and that it would take a while for all of them to be built. They were also told how much, approximately, each home would cost. These houses are not a surprise to the residents of the Lower Ninth, just to the outsiders who were critics from the beginning.

    On a show on CNN or MSNBC (can’t remember which) about two months ago, Brad gave an interview INSIDE one of the houses that a woman and her family had just moved into. Brad said that the heating/cooling bill for ONE YEAR would be LESS THAN $200!!!! How can anybody say that building energy efficient homes is not worth it? Also, the inside of the house was very nice, with three bedrooms and a beautiful kitchen. The homeowner was delighted. Who wouldn’t be??

  53. Sincerity says:

    Kudos to Brad Pitt and Make It Right. They should be commended for their dedication to restoring some of the housing stock that was lost due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

    I lived in New Orleans for almost 20 years prior to Hurricane Katrina and the vast majority of people I encountered were decent, hard working, law abiding tax payers. Politicians made and broke promises left and right, various organizations collected millions of dollars in donation in which many residents never benefited from; however, Brad Pitt cared enough and remained committed to rebuilding homes in one of the “least desirable” neighborhoods in the city.

    Historically relevant restorations are expensive and no longer practical. Most of the residents there probably couldn’t care less about historical relevance. Developing safe, strong affordable housing is much more important. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, BRAD!!!

  54. Yae says:

    One of those homes is built on TOOTHPICKS! And it’s TOP heavy. A flood of water in 80 mile plus hour winds and it’s toast.
    None of the homes seem wind resistant. That’s mandatory in hurricane alley.

    Round structures built with cement or cinder blocks that can actually withstand winds (schools & shelters are built with them) that are attractive are really all that’s acceptable.

    The one on the toothpicks really freaks me out.
    Can the wealthy just use a little bit of common sense here? Its not an art gallery. Square houses in high winds??? /facepalm

  55. lisa says:

    I live in the South and like many people who were interested traveled to NOLA to see the devastation. THE Government did nothing to help these people. Purchased trailers and spent MILLIONS of dollars and they just sat. I have seen some of the houses and will say that while I don’t like modern.. the houses are just beautiful to me. And Brad/and company worked with these people for months before these homes were built. This land that these houses are on belong to these people. It is not land for grabs. These people have been given a way home. Brad has used lots of his money to help furnish these homes, and provide gift cards and such to these families (not my statement, this is from some of the families who are living there). These homes are the kind of homes that most people of their socio economic status could never dream of owning. I watched many of the interviews of the families living there and hoping to return. They love their homes. And their opinions are the ONLY ones that matter in the end. I see homes in my neighborhood painted colors I can’t stand. But the American Dream of owning your home should also give you the right to paint it the color of your choice. Not that of people walking by who may be offended.

    And the fact that MIR is asking for Stimulus money So.. major cooperations go money and spent it on parties, trips, and fat cat employees. If that money can be used to provide people with hope for a future and provide their children with a roof over their heads.. So WHAT..

    I applaud Brad and the people HE got to get involved in this project. If it was not for BRAD PITT NOLA would be as forgotten as the countless other places that have suffered this kind of lose. As it is Nola is still in the news. Like him or not.. I will say without a doubt. NOLA in the news would not be the case without Brad Pitt.

  56. Sarah Riggs says:

    I think Bella got it right (“The problem is that no one (Brad and his all-star team of “architecture firms”) didn’t talk to the displaced residents and ask them what they would like their new homes to look like. If they wanted to live in a modern art museum, then spot on, Brad. If they wanted something similar to what they had before, FAIL.”)

    I’m from New Orleans, but wasn’t displaced by the hurricane (we left a couple of years before it hit). I agree with many that have said that it’s great that B.P. is using his influence and resources (many of which may not have BEEN his, but many of which were given because he was involved IMO) to help the hard hit residents of the 9th ward.

    HOWEVER – the architecture in the 9th ward was a big part of the FEEL of New Orleans; I like what he tried to do, but hate what it looks like.

    I just wonder if they couldn’t have designed houses that looked more like the old ones that were there, but had more “green” properties AND were raised up… Yes, many/most were run down, but they were SO beautiful in design!

    Still, if it calls attention to an area and HELPS, maybe it’s worth it (but MAN are they ugly to look at!!!!)

  57. Boxy Lady says:

    My dad’s side of the family is from New Orleans and my grandparents lived on Tennessee St. just like Al Andrews in the article. I visited the Lower Ninth this July and stood where my grandparents’ house once stood. Yeah, the new houses look *way* different from the houses that used to be there but if the new houses can withstand all that flood water and are “green”, then I don’t see an issue. If you haven’t been in there, I will tell you that most of the area is just tall grass and weeds and trash/ debris. My relatives visit my grandparents’ property there at least once a month to keep the lot clean and the grass mown. You’ll see houses in intermittent lots and most of those houses are the old, deserted, half-standing ones.

    And, yes, I saw the tour buses too. However, those tour buses I saw were filled with volunteers from all over the country who had come to help clean up the area. My dad, my aunt, and I got to talk to them and thank them for not forgetting about the devastation in NOLA (because the gov’t isn’t doing much, frankly). And get this, they thanked *us* for talking to *them* because they said they were now able to put faces to the situation and understand exactly what the evacuees had to go through by hearing firsthand (thirteen members of my extended family moved around like nomads for 2 years before settling near my grandfather’s hometown in MS). My family is grateful to Brad Pitt and anyone else who is trying to help NOLA get back on track.

  58. lucy2 says:

    @Essie – it’s definitely worth it to build energy efficient homes. What I was talking about earlier is that they’re following the LEED for Homes program which is very strict, and I felt that if they gave up the idea of the certification (which amounts to little more than bragging rights, unless there are some tax incentives with this non-profit) then they could build more cost effectively and build MORE homes that are equally or almost as energy efficient.
    @Sincerity I completely agree that the government and politicians failed the people of NO, and I’m very glad that many groups are helping out, especially in the 9th. Still feel that Brad’s program is good, but could be a lot better.
    @Mairead here’s the link. Not a bad program by any means, but when trying to help as many people as possible in a green way, I just think it’s too restrictive. http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=147

  59. Cat says:

    “Where was all this outrage about monies being put into pockets of the others the previous 8+ years? Apparently, it was okay for others to dibble it away on wars, Haliburton and independent contractor/friends of the Bush admin. Nope, no yelling and screaming then.”

    Dude, where were you during the past eight years?? The media HATED Bush for his supposed inaction. Remember Kanye being named man of the year for saying Bush hated black people? And that’s a pretty serious accusation- do you have any proof donation money was used to fund wars, etc.?
    And maybe it’s partly the attitudes of people like you:

    “Not to mention that some of that money came from donations on that were taken at the Make It Right site. Which means I’m paying for housing twice. And you know what, I don’t care. I really don’t care where the money came from as long as it gives housing to people who need it”

    That kind of indifference as to where money is going leaves it wide open for the government to steal money.

  60. Danielle says:

    It’s just that this smells like a experimental architecture project rather than a community development one. That’s the problem. And due to this nature, it is actually slowing down the re-building. Semi-detached green rowhouses would have served better here. This shouldn’t be an art project for an actor for God’s sake.

  61. MOOMOO says:

    The third house looks like a community church.
    I wish we lived in a Gaudi world! What the fuck is so appealing to anyone about these buildings?! I don’t get it =(.

  62. whatever says:

    After I read the article, and your comment I was getting ready to be shocked whilst looking at the pictures. And then I saw the houses, which were in NO WAY extraordinary and I was vastly disappointed by the ungratefulness of people…If I got a house like that for free, I wouldn’t bÍtch about it left and right, I’d burst into tears and would politely say thanks…

  63. Ashley says:

    I can see why they would be angry about the houses not looking like NO. Those box monstosities are hideous. Brad Pitt sort of forced his minimalist style on these people. Yes he did a good thing but they clearly had no say in the matter. Any decent architect worth his salt would have said this isn’t my style, maybe you should find someone else, or this isn’t my style but I’m creative enough to try a different style.

    The author of the post probably doesn’t understand that there are people who feel strongly about areas looking like they should. If I go to LA I want to see the homes that you can only find in LA (and some areas of the south), they usually consist of wrap around porches and have that Southern look. Having a modern Scandanavian looking house ruins that beautiful Southern look. Oddly enough I remember Lowe’s selling affordable homes (like $5000) that fit in with the look. They were small but had that charm and were really cute. I wonder whatever happened to those?

    Oh well at least the houses in the Garden District weren’t disturbed and NOLA still contains some of it’s Southern charm.

  64. Jax says:

    To Yearight–

    Are you kidding me? Those little boxes cost 175,000 grand? Then what are we giving donations for? I sent money to Make It Right. I thought it was to help low income familes get back in their neighborhood. How in the world are they to afford that expensive of a home? This sounds like a scam to me.

  65. wow that was really good news. And i really love bradd pitt

  66. I happen to agree with the post above. I will look the information and post it here. We’ll have the FACTS momentarily.

  67. Arkansasgirl says:

    I have to say, I visited NOLA, Saw Brad walking down the streets like a normal guy, wasn’t concerned about anyone noticing him…or putting himself out there……Has anyone considered that it is finally time to be environmentally friendly??? Have we not learned that there is too many people living in our world abusing our ozone…..Maybe it’s time to look more into the “Environmentally friendly” side of things at all costs? Good deeds are good deeds. God forbid these people have to go through this again…but if they do, these houses will still be standing when its over.