Most of us remember the scenes of devastation from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Those of us who went to New Orleans for the 2006 NAR Conference saw how much the city was still a scene of devastation. Unfortunatly, most of the Lower Ninth Ward remains devasted. I will be doanting 1% from every commission earned in 2009 to MAKE IT RIGHT.
Those of you who know me can imagine that I am not a huge reader of ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST since I love good architecture but prefer simple and small applications of it. However, there was a cover story about an effort to build sustainable, affordable homes in the Lower Ninth Ward-the place most recognized as the epicenter of Katrina's destruction and displacement. MAKE IT RIGHT has a clear and simple goal: to be a catalyst for redevelopment of the Lower 9th Ward, by building a neighborhood comprised of safe and healthy homes that are inspired by Cradle to Cradle thinking, with an emphasis on a high quality of design, while preserving the spirit of the community's culture.
The Lower Ninth Ward had the highest rate of home ownership in New Orleans prior to Katrina. We all saw what happened during the storm. What we are not seeing is the continued neglect in restoration. Some people think that New Orleans should not be rebuilt, at least not the Lower Ninth Ward because the land it sits on is below sea level. The founder of MAKE IT RIGHT, Brad Pitt, points out other parts of New Orleans which are white and middle class actually lie lower than the Lower Ninth Ward but nobody is talking about abandoning them. Make It Right is about fairness as much as anything else. While the Lower Ninth Ward struggles for funding to rebuild, the nearby Jackson Barracks which houses the Louisiana National Guard has received over 250 million dollars for rebuilding.
What is most impressive about MAKE IT RIGHT is that the home designs were subject to several constraints, not the least of which was that none could cost more than $150,000 to build in order to keep them affordable. The result is attractive, affordable homes constructed using Cradle to Cradle principles for sustainable building. Every home is equipped with solar and geothermal technology to provide 75% or more of the homes energy needs. The houses are designed designed to fit on existing long narrow lots, set off the ground to help withstand damage and injury in the event of future flooding. All MIR homes also feature a rooftop escape hatch to avoid the tragedy that occurred during Katrina when people were trapped in their attics and drowned there.