Making it right the wrong way
Tuesday, June 16, 2009 - 10:59
The Make It Right Foundation has the right intentions, but it is missing the big picture. This week's op-ed is in response to the article, Brad Pitt Makes It Right, posted on MNN on April 21.
Brad Pitt's internationally acclaimed Make It Right Village has received a lot of attention from the media and the architecture community for its promoting good will and smart design. While building solar-powered houses on stilts is an effective way to endorse building a cleaner generation of houses in post-Katrina New Orleans, the Make It Right initiative overlooks some of the greater infrastructural challenges facing the Lower Ninth.
When the flood waters rise, residents are going to look toward the local police and fire departments for their help and support. But what good is a fire station when it's 15 feet under water? What about after the storm? Are we expected to rebuild all of these large and costly facilities just for them to meet the ill fate of their poorly built predecessors?
If Mr. Pitt truly wants to make it right, he needs to start in the right place. As an aspiring urban planner, I've studied how cities work (and don't work) and what elements of the city are the most critical. In the grand scheme of things, a solid infrastructure (roads, water/sewage, hospitals, fire and police stations, etc.) is given the most attention; individual housing blocks are the least important. Put the hospital on stilts, retrofit local pumping stations with solar panels, give the fire station more rescue boats – these are the decisions that will come to serve a greater population than a single village.
Photo: Alex Landau
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