Launch Slideshow

As of mid-2011, Make It Right has built 75 new high-performance homes within a 16-block area of the Lower Ninth Ward, restoring a section of this historic and vibrant neighborhood for returning residents after floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina wiped it away. Dedicated to working exclusively with existing Lower Ninth homeowners, Make It Right has succeeded in building not only homes, but also the dignity of families abandoned after the storm.

Case Study: Starting Over in the Lower Ninth Ward

Case Study: Starting Over in the Lower Ninth Ward

  • As of mid-2011, Make It Right has built 75 new high-performance homes within a 16-block area of the Lower Ninth Ward, restoring a section of this historic and vibrant neighborhood for returning residents after floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina wiped it away. Dedicated to working exclusively with existing Lower Ninth homeowners, Make It Right has succeeded in building not only homes, but also the dignity of families abandoned after the storm.

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    As of mid-2011, Make It Right has built 75 new high-performance homes within a 16-block area of the Lower Ninth Ward, restoring a section of this historic and vibrant neighborhood for returning residents after floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina wiped it away. Dedicated to working exclusively with existing Lower Ninth homeowners, Make It Right has succeeded in building not only homes, but also the dignity of families abandoned after the storm.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Triumph From Tragedy
    As of mid-2011, Make It Right has built 75 new high-performance homes within a 16-block area of the Lower Ninth Ward, restoring a section of this historic and vibrant neighborhood for returning residents after floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina wiped it away. Dedicated to working exclusively with existing Lower Ninth homeowners, Make It Right has succeeded in building not only homes, but also the dignity of families abandoned after the storm.

  • To address concern that the neighborhood would sacrifice its front-porch culture in the name of raised foundations for flood control, many of the new homes feature a wider and deeper section of seating adjacent to the steps to the front door that encourages interaction at street level. Design by Adjaye Associates, Berlin and London.

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    To address concern that the neighborhood would sacrifice its front-porch culture in the name of raised foundations for flood control, many of the new homes feature a wider and deeper section of seating adjacent to the steps to the front door that encourages interaction at street level. Design by Adjaye Associates, Berlin and London.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Stadium Stoop
    To address concern that the neighborhood would sacrifice its front-porch culture in the name of raised foundations for flood control, many of the new homes feature a wider and deeper section of seating adjacent to the steps to the front door that encourages interaction at street level. Design by Adjaye Associates, Berlin and London.

  • The high-velocity conditioned air distribution system employs 3.5- or 4-inch-outside-diameter flexible supply tubes powered by compact modular heating/cooling air handlers to deliver conditioned air more efficiently. Supply tubes and 7- to 10-inch diameter plenums can be woven through the structure without the need to frame chases and feature subtle, wall-mounted outlet covers instead of grill registers. Fewer system connections reduce air and heat loss. Air handlers can be paired with a variety of equipment, including geothermal heat pumps. 800.527.0896. www.unicosystem.com.

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    The high-velocity conditioned air distribution system employs 3.5- or 4-inch-outside-diameter flexible supply tubes powered by compact modular heating/cooling air handlers to deliver conditioned air more efficiently. Supply tubes and 7- to 10-inch diameter plenums can be woven through the structure without the need to frame chases and feature subtle, wall-mounted outlet covers instead of grill registers. Fewer system connections reduce air and heat loss. Air handlers can be paired with a variety of equipment, including geothermal heat pumps. 800.527.0896. www.unicosystem.com.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Mini-Duct Air Distribution
    The high-velocity conditioned air distribution system employs 3.5- or 4-inch-outside-diameter flexible supply tubes powered by compact modular heating/cooling air handlers to deliver conditioned air more efficiently. Supply tubes and 7- to 10-inch diameter plenums can be woven through the structure without the need to frame chases and feature subtle, wall-mounted outlet covers instead of grill registers. Fewer system connections reduce air and heat loss. Air handlers can be paired with a variety of equipment, including geothermal heat pumps. 800.527.0896. www.unicosystem.com.

  • The AstroGuard Hurricane Fabric system features a high-strength, high-tenacity ballistic nylon that attaches to pre-installed anchors. The system alleviates the premium cost of impact-resistant laminated windows and/or wind-rated shutters, while the lightweight fabric features a high burst strength rating that resists wind, water, and flying debris in a Category 5 hurricane and folds up for easy storage. Its much easier than trying to nail or screw in panels of plywood over your windows, product coordinator Cesar Rodriguez says. 855.336.6040. www.hurricaneprotection.net.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmpD90%2Etmp_tcm48-961872.jpg

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    The AstroGuard Hurricane Fabric system features a high-strength, high-tenacity ballistic nylon that attaches to pre-installed anchors. The system alleviates the premium cost of impact-resistant laminated windows and/or wind-rated shutters, while the lightweight fabric features a high burst strength rating that resists wind, water, and flying debris in a Category 5 hurricane and folds up for easy storage. Its much easier than trying to nail or screw in panels of plywood over your windows, product coordinator Cesar Rodriguez says. 855.336.6040. www.hurricaneprotection.net.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Hurricane Fabric
    The AstroGuard Hurricane Fabric system features a high-strength, high-tenacity ballistic nylon that attaches to pre-installed anchors. The system alleviates the premium cost of impact-resistant laminated windows and/or wind-rated shutters, while the lightweight fabric features a high burst strength rating that resists wind, water, and flying debris in a Category 5 hurricane and folds up for easy storage. “It’s much easier than trying to nail or screw in panels of plywood over your windows,” product coordinator Cesar Rodriguez says. 855.336.6040. www.hurricaneprotection.net.

  • Designed by Thom Mayne at Morphosis Architects in Los Angeles, in collaboration with the UCLA Architecture and Urban Design graduate program, the FLOAT House sits at ground level thanks to its innovative prefabricated polystyrene foam-and-shotcrete chassis.

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    Designed by Thom Mayne at Morphosis Architects in Los Angeles, in collaboration with the UCLA Architecture and Urban Design graduate program, the FLOAT House sits at ground level thanks to its innovative prefabricated polystyrene foam-and-shotcrete chassis.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Designed by Thom Mayne at Morphosis Architects in Los Angeles, in collaboration with the UCLA Architecture and Urban Design graduate program, the FLOAT House sits at ground level thanks to its innovative prefabricated polystyrene foam-and-shotcrete chassis.

  • Make It Right sources its solar panels from a wide range of manufacturers through local distribution channels, in part to spread the wealth but also to effectively test systems and report results back to the suppliers and the local utility. The foundation also established a for-profit solar division to optimize state and federal tax credits and other financial incentives and act as a knowledge base and liaison for other builders and developers.

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    Make It Right sources its solar panels from a wide range of manufacturers through local distribution channels, in part to spread the wealth but also to effectively test systems and report results back to the suppliers and the local utility. The foundation also established a for-profit solar division to optimize state and federal tax credits and other financial incentives and act as a knowledge base and liaison for other builders and developers.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Solar Panels
    Make It Right sources its solar panels from a wide range of manufacturers through local distribution channels, in part to spread the wealth but also to effectively test systems and report results back to the suppliers and the local utility. The foundation also established a for-profit solar division to optimize state and federal tax credits and other financial incentives and act as a knowledge base and liaison for other builders and developers.

  • Hydromedia allows storm runoff to rapidly filter back into the groundwater while providing the durability necessary for residential streets, driveways, and parking lots. The material experiences minimal compaction and does away with street drainage systems to minimize municipal road maintenance costs and enable narrower streets for a more efficient use of land. It also eliminates standing water and ice formation for greater safety and durability. It helps change the perception of water from a negative into a positive in this neighborhood, Rodriguez says. 703.480.3600. www.lafargenorthamerica.com.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmpD91%2Etmp_tcm48-961873.jpg

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    Hydromedia allows storm runoff to rapidly filter back into the groundwater while providing the durability necessary for residential streets, driveways, and parking lots. The material experiences minimal compaction and does away with street drainage systems to minimize municipal road maintenance costs and enable narrower streets for a more efficient use of land. It also eliminates standing water and ice formation for greater safety and durability. It helps change the perception of water from a negative into a positive in this neighborhood, Rodriguez says. 703.480.3600. www.lafargenorthamerica.com.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Pervious Street Paving
    Hydromedia allows storm runoff to rapidly filter back into the groundwater while providing the durability necessary for residential streets, driveways, and parking lots. The material experiences minimal compaction and does away with street drainage systems to minimize municipal road maintenance costs and enable narrower streets for a more efficient use of land. It also eliminates standing water and ice formation for greater safety and durability. “It helps change the perception of water from a negative into a positive in this neighborhood,” Rodriguez says. 703.480.3600. www.lafargenorthamerica.com.

  • The Verve system features hard-wired central panels that can control up to 10 wireless and battery-less light switches and/or receptacles from as far away as 300 feet to serve multiple areas of the house. It really cuts down on the electricians labor and the potential for running wire to the wrong location, especially for a house built using SIPs, Rodriguez says. The wireless and dimmable switches are clipped into wall-mounted brackets to enable mobility. And if you dont like where the switch is or what it does, you can move it and reprogram it at the controller, Rodriguez adds. 877.874.8774. www.vervelivingsystems.com.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmpD8C%2Etmp_tcm48-961868.jpg

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    The Verve system features hard-wired central panels that can control up to 10 wireless and battery-less light switches and/or receptacles from as far away as 300 feet to serve multiple areas of the house. It really cuts down on the electricians labor and the potential for running wire to the wrong location, especially for a house built using SIPs, Rodriguez says. The wireless and dimmable switches are clipped into wall-mounted brackets to enable mobility. And if you dont like where the switch is or what it does, you can move it and reprogram it at the controller, Rodriguez adds. 877.874.8774. www.vervelivingsystems.com.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Wireless Lighting Controls
    The Verve system features hard-wired central panels that can control up to 10 wireless and battery-less light switches and/or receptacles from as far away as 300 feet to serve multiple areas of the house. “It really cuts down on the electrician’s labor and the potential for running wire to the wrong location, especially for a house built using SIPs,” Rodriguez says. The wireless and dimmable switches are clipped into wall-mounted brackets to enable mobility. “And if you don’t like where the switch is or what it does, you can move it and reprogram it at the controller,” Rodriguez adds. 877.874.8774. www.vervelivingsystems.com.

  • EnviroGuard is a waterproof sealant, applied to dimensional lumber prior to installation, that provides protection against moisture intrusion, mold growth, pests, and rot. The water-based liquid silicon rubber coating offers a non-toxic solution. Applied at the distributor or lumber supplier or on-site with a sprayer, roller, or brush, its guaranteed to protect any porous surface, including concrete and masonry, for 10 years, the manufacturer says. www.enviroguard.co.nz. House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmpD8A%2Etmp_tcm48-961866.jpg

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    EnviroGuard is a waterproof sealant, applied to dimensional lumber prior to installation, that provides protection against moisture intrusion, mold growth, pests, and rot. The water-based liquid silicon rubber coating offers a non-toxic solution. Applied at the distributor or lumber supplier or on-site with a sprayer, roller, or brush, its guaranteed to protect any porous surface, including concrete and masonry, for 10 years, the manufacturer says. www.enviroguard.co.nz. House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Treated Lumber
    EnviroGuard is a waterproof sealant, applied to dimensional lumber prior to installation, that provides protection against moisture intrusion, mold growth, pests, and rot. The water-based liquid silicon rubber coating offers a non-toxic solution. Applied at the distributor or lumber supplier or on-site with a sprayer, roller, or brush, it’s guaranteed to protect any porous surface, including concrete and masonry, for 10 years, the manufacturer says. www.enviroguard.co.nz. House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

  • House design by Trahan Architects, Baton Rouge, La.

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    House design by Trahan Architects, Baton Rouge, La.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    House design by Trahan Architects, Baton Rouge, La.

  • Make it Right, New Orleans

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    Make it Right, New Orleans

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    House design by Make it Right, New Orleans.

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    House design by Make it Right, New Orleans.

  • House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

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    House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

  • House design by KieranTimberlake, Philadelphia.

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    House design by KieranTimberlake, Philadelphia.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    House design by KieranTimberlake, Philadelphia.

  • House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

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    House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

Cesar Rodriguez, the product coordinator for Make It Right, shows me a map. “All of the ones in red are houses that didn’t survive the flood,” he says. The 16-block area identified by MIR for its rebuilding effort is almost all red.

But now, six years after Katrina and three years since Make It Right (MIR) built its first six prototypes, homes have returned—different, but better and safer. To date, 75 of the 150 single-family and duplex units MIR plans to build here are up and occupied. It’s a critical mass in a relatively small footprint that already, only halfway to goal, looks and feels like a neighborhood.

“It was important to stay in that area to generate some momentum, create neighborhood cohesiveness, and inspire more rebuilding,” CEO Tom Darden says. “We won’t match the original density of the Lower Ninth, but we’re already more dense than the rest of it right now.”

Restoring a neighborhood is different than developing a new one. Sure, the Lower Ninth Ward after Katrina was by some definitions a brownfield parcel ripe for redevelopment (and some civic leaders lobbied to leave it as open space), except for one thing: the people who owned homes there before still owned the property on which their homes used to sit, and a good measure of them wanted to return and rebuild.

Make It Right made it easier for returning residents, if not necessarily easier on themselves. The foundation sought out residents, some displaced as far as Seattle, to gauge their interest in coming back; those that wanted to return would have an opportunity to buy a MIR house of their choice for their lot, while others could sell their lots to make them available to other returning residents. Or, they could do neither and rebuild at their own pace with another builder.

“Assembling land like that has been a challenge,” Darden says, in terms of finding, communicating with, and qualifying potential buyers. “We needed a critical mass of buyers to make it work, but only if they lived in the neighborhood before Katrina.”

The foundation’s policy to limit sales to existing Lower Ninth residents displaced by the flood came from its primary desire to restore the neighborhood for those who lived there as much as possible, rather than offer new homes to anyone.

To facilitate its case-by-case approach, MIR developed a vertically integrated structure that found and contacted homeowners, educated them about the program, and offered forgivable loans to bridge what buyers brought to the table—at least half of the average $150,000 price tag, though not more than 30% of their income, from a variety of public and private sources.

MIR also walked buyers through the floor plan and finish selection process, qualified and supervised a team of nine general contractors during construction, procured all building materials to leverage volume discounts, and conducted classes prior to move-in that oriented owners to their new homes.

“Large-scale developers have a lot more pressure to streamline their processes and be more efficient with their decisions,” says MIR senior manager Pierre Moses. “But Make It Right was willing to take the time to engage the community and homeowners to deliver on its mission and maintain its standards.”