Last Fall Jude Leblanc senior studio Have visited New Orleans as a part of the studio project. We’ve visited 9th ward which had greatest loses during Hurricane Katrina in 2007. This devastated area is still not recovered. There is a lot of controversy weather that area should be rebuilt. The 9th ward area is mostly in the low-lying flood zones – populated by the very poor. With so much of the New Orleans lying below sea level, devastating floods are inevitable. In 2008 after long deliberation the court allowed resettlement of the area. It was heartbreaking to walk in that area which was used to lively neighborhood. From conversations with residents we learned that they are convinced that government is against the resettlement of mostly poor African American neighborhood. Some residents came back but that was only a small percentage. Make It Right Foundation started with Brad Pitt with bold idea to rebuild in 9th Ward and bring back its residents. However not many are ready to come back and with slow progress they have completed 14 homes so far. I was very skeptical when I saw only small number of houses and few others in progress.
However once I learned all the details of the work in progress I began to change my opinion. The area represents ground zero for architects and engineers. They test and use latest construction technology in building high risk flood and hurricane zones. Some of this technology includes but not limited to raising the houses on stiff concrete post to prevent flooding into the house. The implemented modular building: bringing prefab pieces and attaching them at the site. They make houses energy efficient by using sandwiched insulated walls and by installing solar panels and water collectors. One of the latest project is floating house, which has porous concrete as its base, it can float if the area floods. Make it right foundation builds green and it builds green houses.
We also met David Green who was the first resident who came back to devastated area and lived in a trailer until he got his new house one of the first ones completed by Make it Right. When I started my conversations with him in front of his house he asked me where I am from: when he find out that I am from Tech he was quick to rush back into his house and quickly reappear back with special T shirt which had group photo of all Georgia Tech students who came to clean up the area after Hurricane Katrina back in 2007. He asked me to thank all of them and tell them that he remembers them and their great work.
[ Hrach Burtoyan, issue_9, Make it Right Foundation, New Orleans, technology, volume_1 ]