There's a certain idiom that begins with "Rome" and ends with "day" that can most certainly be applied to the Make It Right neighborhood, a humanitarian rebuilding effort cum celebrity-fueled display of architectural razzle-dazzle in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward.

 
Five years after the ambitious redevelopment project commenced and nearly six since [skipwords]Hurricane[/skipwords] Katrina’s floodwaters left the Lower Ninth Ward in ruins, architecture-loving actor Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation is slowly but surely moving towards what it originally set out to do: Build 150 affordable and storm-resistant green homes for Lower 9th Ward residents displaced by Katrina. The deadline? The end of 2013.
 
Thus far, three months into 2012, 76 of the homes have been completed and another nine are currently under construction, including one designed by starchitect Frank Gehry. Remember when the first six homes were completed, way back in the very early days of MNN? 
 
To mark Make It Right’s halfway-there status, Pitt, along with Ellen DeGeneres, Drew Brees, and Randy Jackson, hosted a star-studded shindig and benefit concert at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans this past weekend. More a serious fundraising effort than a celebratory exercise in self-congratulatory backslapping, A Night to Make It Right attracted the “most bodacious collection of A-listers ever assembled in Hollywood South” to quote the Times-Picayune. The 1,200 available tickets for the Emeril Lagasse-prepared dinner and auction cost up to $2,500 a head while tickets to the Aziz Ansari-hosted after party cost $150. Scheduled to perform at the gala and the after party were Seal, Kanye West, Snoop Dog, Rhianna, Sheryl Crow, and, of course, Dr. John.
 
Tom Darden, director of the Make It Right Foundation, hopes the gala alone will garner $4 million in contributions, $1 million off from the estimated annual figure needed to complete the project by late 2013. A steady decline in contributions — $15 million in 2007 down to $3.8 million in 2010 — coupled with the high costs of constructing the initial round of “avant-garde” prototype homes — this amphibious, shotgun-style prefab included — are partially to blame for the project’s sluggish progress (commenters over at the Times-Picayune also chime in with what they think has hampered the project). Still, Darden’s eye is very much on the finish line and he’s confident that the redevelopment of the Lower 9th Ward will continue even after the magic number is reached. “I hope we don’t shut down after 150,” he told the Times-Picayune.
 
Lots more on what’s hindered Make It Right since its conception, what’s changed, and what’s ahead over at the Times-Picayune. In addition to Make it Right-partnered affordable building projects in Newark, N.J., and Kansas City along with the development of a for-profit organization focused on solar leasing, a recent development not mentioned in the article is the recently unveiled Make It Right-benefiting prefab home, the LivingHome C6. As part of the partnership between Make It Right and Santa Monica-based LivingHomes, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each affordable, LEED Platinum C6 will directly benefit the foundation. 
 
And for a somewhat ominous (blame those storm clouds) and somewhat odd (blame the “minimalist music derived from the ice cream truck”) tour of the half-completed Make It Right neighborhood, check out the video below. And be sure to click here if you're interested in donating to help make the remaining Make It Right Homes a reality by 2013. Halfway is as good a time as any.
 
 
 
 

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