Actor Brad Pitt’s Make It Right foundation erected several score of goofy homes in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans – poor, depopulated and hardest hit by Katrina in 2005. Pitt brought in squads of modern architects to teach the hoi polloi what kinda machines for living their betters covet, even if they don’t actually all live in one. Brad and wifelet Angolina Jolie had a $6 million townhouse in the ritzy French Quarter before they split up.
But many of the Make It Right houses have turned out to be moldy, not to mention fugly, and, while green and edgy, are not exactly affordable.
One of the houses may be demolished only seven years after it was built if a permit is issued by the city on April 30. The Lens, an online Gulf Coast news site, wrote about 5012 N. Derbigny St. in “Blighted Make It Right home to be demolished after standing vacant, half-repaired for two years.”
Philadelphia architects KieranTimberlake gave it a flat roof, natch, but before another architect could replace it with a sloped roof, its owner had moved out. (A sloped roof can be cool as long as its slopes don’t meet in the middle, like a gable.) So the roof was leaking – surprise, surprise! – and mold was setting in, stinking the place up and driving the sickened family out.
At a hearing on the house last week, the city tried to put a cork in the controversy:
Hearing officer Lee Phillips made it clear that the hearing was about code violations, not issues between the property owner, the neighbors and the developer. He said the hearing wasn’t ‘the Jerry Springer show’ and his role was to decide whether to impose a fine, not to decide who was at fault for the leaks.
The cutting-edge design of these homes has sparked a local activist movement to confront Pitt and Make It Right. This may not be the first Make It Right house to head south, and it won’t be the last. Problems are cropping up at other Make It Right homes, according to a WDSU-TV story, “Brad Pitt Make It Right homes riddled with problems, say some residents.”
And while Pitt is to be commended for trying harder to do good than most celebrities, he can be blamed for pigheadedness. Instead of building Ninth Ward residents a new neighborhood they never asked for, why did Pitt not try to rebuild the one they lost? It would have been a lot more helpful.
But how much fun would that be? Brad might have some idea, but nobody asked the Ninth Ward.