Brad Pitt Houses in New Orleans' 9th Ward

“…In New Orleans they are known as “Brad Pitt Houses,” because they are the brainchild of the actor. Pitt formed the Make it Right Foundation, and recruited top architects to design modern but hurricane-proof replacement housing. He raised $30 million for the project, and the houses, some with flamboyant touches like sweeping metal grillwork that extends from the front roof to the backyard, dot the neighborhood.
In fact, there are now enough of them that tourist bus companies, spotting an opportunity, have begun to offer Brad Pitt Houses tours. In fact, they’ve become so popular that signs are up requesting that visitors not bother the occupants.…”

Article in San Francisco Chronicle by C.W. Nevius. Photo: Rod Lamkey Jr, AFP/Getty Images

9 Responses to Brad Pitt Houses in New Orleans' 9th Ward

  1. Anonymous says:

    Okay… I get the laudable intent.. of Brad Pitt and others… who worked to raise awareness and the funds..

    He helped to raise 30 million… How many houses were actually built… At 100,000 each, there should be at least 300… (I realise many will suggest that cost is low..but..lots of volunteers/land already there/much disaster assistance manpower provided…so…)
    Also, as one of the comments on the links suggested…”there was to be government disaster assistance”..where did it go..also…Did anyone have insurance?

    Okay…. And maybe this will get me some rotten eggs…but
    These houses are touted as Hurricane proof? Really? Guess time will tell….

    The Cement “legs” do not appear to be structurally perpendicular… wouldn’t that cause uneven stresses?

    These house seem to have inordinate amount of stairs… Are all these disaster folks really able to manage that many stairs? Really? Will all in the news about the current concerning state of the people’s has to wonder.
    (are there no elderly who required these houses?)

    Flat roofs? One hopes there is enough slope for water to run off, otherwise there are going to be some pricey roof repairs.

    Lloyd has had so many houses on his blog/in his book which would seem to be more practical, as well as much more aesthetically pleasing, to the eye and the soul. If Brad Pitt’s group felt something must be mass produced, even the ones below, have been shown to be inexpensive to erect, proven to be long lasting (as evidenced by their age well past expectations), pleasing to owners (as evidenced by their reluctance to leave), and much more functional (no stairs) for many.
    1948 – 1950: Lustron Homes Post-War America Experiments With Pre-Fab Housing
    Demolition of 187 Low-cost Prefabs in UK Slated

    Well, really, my first impression upon looking at Brad Pitt’s Houses were – Flimsy – Ugly.

    Maybe someone could send Brad Pitt’s group Lloyd’s books, and a link to his site.

  2. Kristi says:

    I live in this area. The 9th ward was hit hard…just as hard hit was St. Bernard Parish.

    I see Brad Pitt houses weekly. They are not asthetically pleasing (and do appear flimsy), and as far as I can tell pay no homage or tribute to the historical significance of the area. Dissapointing.

    I believe the complete devastation of the area could have been better served with a larger community based plan, but with politics and corruption after Katrina in New Orleans I'm not sure that would have been possible. Still dissapointed that the opportunity seems wasted. The area still looks pretty dismal due to the fact that many residents chose not to return and left their mess for others to clean.

    My Mother, Father, and Four siblings and their families lost all but their lives and the car that they were in during Katrina. So did countless friends.

    I do admire Brad Pitt's desire and what he was trying to accomplish.

  3. Martin says:

    I agree with Kristi (and sorrow for her loss). I spent a year-plus in New Orleans post-Katrina (2008-2009) and did some work on a house or two in "Musician's Village" – which is not far from the Pitt houses – during that time. While Brad's project is laudable, the houses therein do not at all reflect the traditions of small-house architecture in New Orleans, which is a very tradition-oriented place. Even though they would likely accommodate future flooding better than the houses in Musician's Village since they are raised higher off the ground (hence the need for all those stairs; a not an uncommon feature of the local residential architecture in general), they are better suited aesthetically to some other place – certainly not New Orleans and certainly not the Ninth Ward.

  4. Lloyd Kahn says:

    You know, you guys are right. (I love thoughtful feedback like this.) I admire Brad (and Sean Penn) for using their celebrity to help people, but I Googled "Brad Pitt houses – New Orleans," clicked on "images" and there certainly are some strange looking ones. I don't know, maybe these are prefabs, maybe they had to be erected sooner rather than later, maybe utility was more important than charm. Actually, the one shown here does not look that bad to me. Up out of flood zone, small deck, reminds me a bit of Texas "shotgun" houses. It would be wonderful if future ones had some New Orleans charm along with practicality. Check out photos of creole cottages at :

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yes, the photos of the creole cottages would have been a good starting point. Have done a bit more searching, and although the odd house might be "okay", I sure wouldnt feel the Sould Satisfying feeling i get from most of the houses in Lloyd's books…

    Wanting to be fare (I am anonymous of the above), i did a bit more looking.. I still consider the ugly and unstable (appearing). Some of them even seem to me, give a sufficient gust of wind (hurricane), they are tall and spindly enough/with enough side surface the might just get blown right over. I suspect this is not likely, as it was all designed by architects, but that is how i would feel living in one. NOT secure.

    I wonder what the 30 Million dollers (plus) raised by Brad and others goes/went to? Is it just to pay the executives/office staff which run this agency "Make it Right"… If so, maybe that should be made clear, as they are asking for more donations.

    It appears the money does not go to subsidizing the actual house purchase. I looked on few sites, and it says "purchase of the house" etc…mmm

    sites below, more info/more pics/ good video with Brad and Ellen doing a tour
    No one lives there yet, but a family could buy the home and move in as early as next month, said Tom Darden, executive director of Make It Right.
    The group says it went through the local zoning and permitting channels before erecting the 1,000 square-foot, two-bedroom house on the site.
    How much do the homes cost?
    Our single-family homes in New Orleans cost $150,000 on average. Our Kansas City and Newark projects are affordable rental units.
    Who can buy a Make It Right home?

  6. Anonymous says:

    They sort of look like crap.


  7. Brian says:

    Brad Pitt gets more press because of his celebrity, but Leonard Riggio, founder of Barnes & Noble Books has already built 101 energy-efficient homes in the Gentilly area of New Orleans with plans to build 100 more. The style of these homes blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.

    Here's the article of October 16, 2012, from The Times Picayune:

    Leonard Riggio, the founder and chairman of Barnes & Noble Inc., and his wife Louise will announce plans Wednesday for a new partnership to build and furnish 100 homes in Gentilly for working-class New Orleanians who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office said. The Riggios founded the nonprofit Project Home Again, which previously built 101 energy-efficient, single-family homes in Gentilly.

    This represented the largest privately funded residential rebuilding program after Katrina. It was supported by a $20 million gift from the Riggios.

    Unlike the Make It Right project in the Lower 9th Ward, in which famous architects submitted designs that aimed to push the boundaries of environmental friendliness and energy efficiency, or Habitat for Humanity, which built scores of homes aimed at musicians using largely volunteer labor, Project Home Again strived for designs that blended into the neighborhood and targeted people of modest incomes who had been homeowners before Katrina.

    To participate, people had to earn less than 120 percent of the area's median income, or less than $73,320 for a family of four. They also had to have a job, pass credit checks, go through homeownership training, and have no liens on their original property.

    Once accepted into the program, they gave their original lot — with or without an unrepaired house — to Project Home Again, and Project Home Again gave them a new house in return and let them pick out furniture to go with it. All the new homes were assigned a value of $150,000, and $30,000 of the mortgage was forgiven each year so participants owned it free and clear after five years.

    If the lots that people turned in were well-located, Project Home Again would build new homes on them for other people. Otherwise, the group swapped the properties with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority for other lots that were closer to each other or other Project Home Again houses to create density.

    Riggio, a Jazzfest regular whose wife's grandparents emigrated from Italy to New Orleans at the turn of the last century, was moved to do something after Katrina by the images of human suffering at the Superdome.

    "This is the kind of event where citizens need to lend a hand to their neighbors," he said. "We felt compelled to jump in and be at the side of these good people."

    Plans for the new effort will be announced Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at the mayor's press room at City Hall.

  8. Brian says:

    Some pictures of the Project Home Again homes:

  9. Martin says:

    In reference to Brian's comment, he is correct that Musician's Village was developed through the auspices of Habitat for Humanity and was done largely with volunteer labor (I was one of the volunteers for awhile). However, what he left out is the fact that each new owner was also required to provide 300 hours (as I recall) of sweat equity labor to the project – either on their own house or some other structure. By the way, MV has its own celebrity sponsors in Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis, two local musicians of international note.

Post a Comment