Case Study: Starting Over in the Lower Ninth Ward

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

House design by Trahan Architects, Baton Rouge, La.

House design by Make it Right, New Orleans.

House design by Make it Right, New Orleans.

House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

House design by KieranTimberlake, Philadelphia.

House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

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