The Architect’s Newspaper

David Adjaye-designed house built by Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation to be torn down

A sign in front of a construction site that reads Make It Right

The Make It Right complex in the Lower Ninth Ward in 2008, as construction was ongoing. (Ed Schipul/Flickr under the CC BY-SA 2.0)

A small but nevertheless significant building designed by Sir David Adjaye in the Lower Ninth Ward for Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation will be demolished because it has been deemed unsafe.

The city of New Orleans posted a “Notice of Emergency Demolition” on the vacant house at 1826 Reynes Street, saying that it is “in imminent danger of collapse and/or threat to life,” according to NOLA.com.

The Make It Right Foundation is a nonprofit that was created by Pitt to provide affordable housing for displaced residents after Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005. However, many of the houses built by the Make It Right Foundation experienced construction problems that later made them uninhabitable, including leaks and rotting wood.

Homebuyers in 2018 filed a class-action lawsuit against foundation, which has sued at least one of the construction companies and others for defective work. The nonprofit has since closed its New Orleans office and shuttered its website.

Adjaye (technically Adjaye Associates), designer of the house targeted for demolition, is one of several “starchitects” that Pitt’s foundation recruited to design 109 homes in the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the areas hardest hit by flooding that followed the hurricane. Other big-name architects involved in the effort were Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, Shigeru Ban, KieranTimberlake, Alejandro Aravena, and many more.

The British-Ghanaian Adjaye was named this month the 2021 RIBA Royal Gold Medal recipient, making him the first Black architect to receive the honor.

According to NOLA, Adjaye’s house was built on Reynes Street in 2011, sold for $130,000, and vacated two years later. It was lifted off the ground and featured a large rooftop terrace occupiable as a second story. Photos run by NOLA.com show that the building has been boarded up, siding has peeled off or become blackened with rot, and part of the roof over the upper-level terrace is sagging because the supporting posts have deteriorated.

In 2018, a Make It Right home on Derbigny Street was demolished, after neighbors complained that it was a safety hazard and eyesore. An exact date for the demolition on Reynes Street has not been disclosed, according to NOLA.com

AN has reached out to Adjaye Associates for comment and will update this story accordingly.