Fourteen new house designs created for the Make It Right Foundation will help residents in New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward continue to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. For its second round of designs, the foundation focused on duplexes (or "doubles," as locals call them) as a way to restore housing type diversity to the neighborhood. The choice also enables returning residents to carry on the tradition of having multiple generations live together under one roof or to rent out a portion of their properties for additional income.

"We turned to some of the best architects in the business, who volunteered their time, met with the community and potential homeowners, and applied their experience and creativity to come up with high-quality designs that really advance the concept of the duplex," Make It Right's executive director Tom Darden said in a statement announcing the new designs.

Six of the architecture firms who donated their services for the single-family home design round returned for the duplex design round. Also contributing designs this time were Atelier Hitoshi Abe of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan; bildDESIGN of New Orleans; buildingstudio of New Orleans; ELEMENTAL of Santiago, Chile; Gehry Partners of Los Angeles; Kappe Architects/Planners of Pacific Palisades, Calif.; Waggonner & Ball Architects of New Orleans; and William McDonough + Partners of Charlottesville, Va. Returning firms include Billes Architecture of New Orleans; the Houston office of BNIM Architects; Constructs LLC of Accra, Ghana, and Fairfax, Va.; GRAFT of Berlin, Beijing, and Los Angeles; MVRDV of Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Pugh + Scarpa Architects of Santa Monica, Calif.

program requirements and outcomes

The Make It Right Foundation asked architects to design an affordable green duplex home that can withstand the region's climate and hurricanes. Each design also had to be based on New Orleans' traditional shotgun, dogtrot, or camelback form, with a footprint of 1,800 square feet to 2,000 square feet. What's more, submissions had to draw on the Cradle to Cradle philosophy of William McDonough and incorporate materials that could be verified as nontoxic and recyclable. The duplex designs each address flexible living spaces, integration with the street, landscaping as a design and energy element, and affordability.

"There was a lot of feedback from the community after the first single-family designs asking for duplexes, because there's a strong tradition of side-by-side shotguns and camelbacks with additional units on the back end. They wanted more alternatives," explains Katherine Grove, AIA, LEED AP, director at William McDonough + Partners and adviser to the firm's Make It Right duplex design team. The firm has been collaborating with Make It Right since 2007 to guide design and materials selection for the homes the foundation builds.

Also in this round, architects drew on lessons the foundation has learned while building many of the original single-family home designs, working with the materials and building systems, and developing relationships with the community. Because there is no master plan for rebuilding the Lower 9th Ward, there is great potential for a jumbled patchwork of unrelated houses to result from rebuilding efforts. According to Byron Mouton, AIA, principal of bildDESIGN, many of the Make It Right duplex designers paid attention to how their house designs might exist side by side with others. "We saw more of the architects in this round think about the development of neighborhoods, not just houses," he says.

The participants have been pleasantly surprised by the feedback they've received thus far. "So many of the people in the Lower 9th Ward have extended families in the area, so they really seem to like the opportunity to have a relative living with them or the ability to rent out a unit," says Coleman Coker, founder of buildingstudio. "The community has responded to the designs very positively overall. They've really embraced the designs, even the nontraditional ones. They're excited about new opportunities and new ways of living."

Many of the landowners like the modern designs, while others prefer the more traditional ones. "The neighbors appreciate that they get to choose," Mouton adds.

To view complete details on each of the new duplex designs, visit