In 2007, Brad Pitt launched a project to rebuild a neighborhood devastated by Hurricane Katrina, which had hit New Orleans two years earlier. An eco-responsible project, which turns out to be, more than ten years later, an absolute disaster…
You may not know it, but one of Brad Pitt’s burning passions is architecture and design. So much in fact that in 2004, he considered the most seriously in the world a possible retraining by giving himself another four years in his acting profession, as he confided to a German magazine. If he has not in the meantime become the new Frank Gehry and that he backpedaled in his intentions to change career paths; the fact remains that architecture occupies more than ever his centers of interest.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. While the city was still largely bruised two years later, the actor wanted to make his contribution to the reconstruction, and presented to the Press the Make it Right Project. A salutary initiative aimed at rebuilding entire neighborhoods, and the fruit of the work carried out by architects from all over the world, who drew up the plans for 150 houses to ecological standards. Each of them was to be sold at a price of 150,000 dollars.
Brad Pitt, very involved in this initiative, even announced that he had invested 5 million dollars from his pocket in the project, and that he was still looking to raise funds. Because he did not intend to stop there: other neighborhoods were to benefit from the measure. These first houses, which had to be built on stilts to avoid any risk of flooding, were to see the light of day in the summer of 2008. For anyone who dreamed of being an architect, it was a dream opportunity.
A beautiful intention that has become an architectural fiasco
An article from Guardian, relayed by Courrier International, more than largely tempers the initial enthusiasm for the project, which even turns out to be an absolute disaster. A failure for which Brad Pitt refuses to take responsibility.
Many houses built with this project have become uninhabitable; the fault of an incredible amount of poor workmanship: water infiltration, mold, rotten porches from humidity, collapsing stair railings, fires caused by electrical problems, faulty plumbing and ventilation, termite infestation… The list is as long as a day without bread. Two houses had to be demolished due to serious mold problems, one in 2018 and the other last year. Of the remaining houses, six have been abandoned since the first residents moved in.
“Although some of these structures are not yet ten years old, my data shows that only six remain in reasonably good condition” loose Judith Keller, an academic specializing in urban planning and quoted in the article. “I was shocked to see how badly this project had deteriorated over the past three years.” The situation would be all the more dramatic since most owners do not have the means to carry out the repairs themselves.
Collective complaint filed
A group of residents still residing in the neighborhood has just taken legal action against the actor and his charity. “It was, in most cases, a one-time home ownership deal for these people” explains the collective’s lawyer, Ron Austin, also pointing out that despite this fiasco under the comedian’s tutelage, many residents continue to appreciate the actor: “It’s unbelievable. To this day their homes are collapsing around them and they still love the man. But they just can’t believe this betrayal.”
If the charity Make it Right Project has since turned against the wood suppliers and even the project manager and coordinatorestimating the cost of the new reconstructions at at least $20 million, Brad Pitt refuses to take at least partial responsibility for the fiasco.
Although a judge refused in 2019 the request of the actor’s lawyers to remove the person concerned from the complainta source familiar with the matter comments: “His lawyers have made it clear that he has no legal responsibility for decisions made by others. He remains personally committed to doing all he can to help resolve the ongoing litigation. It was always something something that was important to him from the start, and he really wants to help make sure things end in the most positive positive way.”