What was Brad Pitt up to? Well, you won't understand unless I let you in on a deep, dark secret. You see, Brad is a junkie, an architectural junkie. To quote from Dave McNair in an Arpil 27, 2006 article in The Hook:
That's right, Brad Pitt's an architecture junkie. While other actors hang out with politicians and rock stars, Pitt likes to hang out with architects. In fact, Pitt says he has befriended architect Frank Gehry (whose almost completed George Ohr Museum in Biloxi was wiped out by Katrina - Mac).
"My love for architecture led me to beating on Frank's door, and he graciously let me in," he said. "He's a favorite of mine-- full of great innovation and great wisdom."
"Yes, Brad is familiar with Gehry," says Matt Petersen, president of Global Green USA, a national environmental organization promoting green design in New Orleans, "but he's also familiar with a lot of less well known masters like Steven Hull or Richard Meyer. He's become a real student of architecture."
Pitt recently teamed up with Global Green to sponsor a sustainable design competition. According to a Global Green press release, Pitt hopes the competition will "generate and uncover new and innovative ideas that will advance the practicalities of responsible architecture" and speed up the rebuilding effort in New Orleans." (source)
Brad Pitt and Global Green announced the winners on September 7, 2006. To quote from an article from DEXIGNER on such:
"The winning design integrated the newest sustainable technologies while drawing upon the wisdom of the past," said Matt Petersen, President of Global Green USA. "The impressive innovations show how to rebuild a healthier New Orleans. These homes, once built, will help improve the lives of families by lowering energy costs and improving the health of the residents."
If 50,000 homes were rebuilt according to the energy cost reduction goals in the competition, residents would save $38 million to $56 million EVERY year. Each sustainably designed home would also reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 11 tons per household per year, the equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road. (source)
This was actually phase one of the master plan brewing in Brad's head. He had just helped sponsor a project that created intelligent designs for a Green New Orleans. What was phase two? Read on:
In December 2006, Brad Pitt convened a group of experts in New Orleans to brainstorm about building green affordable housing on a large scale to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Having spent time with community leaders and displaced residents determined to return home, Pitt realized that an opportunity existed to build houses that were not only stronger and healthier, but that had less impact on the environment.
Previously, Pitt sponsored an architecture competition organized by Global Green with the goal of generating ideas about how to rebuild sustainably. Several of those designs are currently under construction in the Lower 9th Ward, and the project inspired him to expand his efforts.
After discussing the hurdles associated with rebuilding in a devastated area, the group determined that a large-scale redevelopment project focused on green affordable housing and incorporating innovative design was indeed possible.
The group settled on the goal of constructing 150 homes (one of the larger rebuilding projects in the city), with an emphasis on developing an affordable system that could be replicated.
To demonstrate replicability, Pitt determined to locate the project in the Lower 9th Ward, one of the most devastated areas of New Orleans, to prove that safe homes could and should be rebuilt. Pitt hopes that this project will be a catalyst for recovery and redevelopment throughout the Lower 9th Ward and across the city of New Orleans.