Back in March, I reported that Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation threw itself a giant, star-studded soiree (read: fundraiser) to celebrate the fact that the ambitious redevelopment project had slowly but surely reached the half-way mark: 150 affordable, sustainable, and storm-resistant homes had been completed in the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans in an effort to revitalize the community and lure residents back to the area.
However, only one Make It Right architect has had the distinction of appearing as himself on “The Simpsons.” That, of course, would be Frank Gehry (aka “the architect that people who don’t know anything about architecture are familiar with”).
Los Angeles-based Gehry Partner’s just-unveiled Make It Right contribution, a pink- and lilac-colored duplex at 1750 Tennessee St. that the Times-Picayune is already dubbing the “undisputed prima donna” of the Make It Right neighborhood, is the only Gehry building in Louisiana and only one of 22 residences nationwide designed by the starchitect responsible for super-dramatic rubberneckers including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Seattle’s Experience Music Project, and the Dancing House in Prague (and, of course, there’s his controversial design for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial which has been making headlines left and right).
Gehry’s Make It Right Home (it’s number 86) should prove to be a nice distraction from the hoopla surrounding the Eisenhower Memorial and, as pointed out by the Times-Picayune, will likely increase looky-loo foot traffic within the MIR development. Because where there's a Gehry, there's also a camera-wielding tourist. Of course, the LEED Platinum home’s pastel exterior paint scheme — colors chosen by Linda Santi, the home’s future resident, not by Gehry — certainly helps it stand out in a neighborhood already filled with eye-catching residences including Thomas Mayne's FLOAT House.
Says Gehry, 83, in a press release issued by the Make It Right Foundation:
I really believe in what Brad is doing for the community and was honored to be included. I wanted to make a house that I would like to live in and one that responded to the history, vernacular and climate of New Orleans. I love the colors that the homeowner chose. I could not have done it better.
Observes Doug MacCash of the Times-Picayune:
The Gehry house may be the rosy new darling of the modernist enclave, but there’s nothing frilly or fussy about the clapboard-sided, tin-roofed design. Rather, the structure has a severe quality, with blocky stacked segments, steeply inclined exterior staircases, an abruptly flat awning on top. Aside from the whimsical colors, no effort has been made to soften or decorate the design.
Yet there’s an ineffably playful aspect to the plan. To climb the stairs to the raised front porch, then ascend the narrow inside staircase to the broad second story balcony, then take the outside gangway to the shaded third-story upper deck, is like shimmying to a tree house. This is residential design the way Peter Pan might imagine it.
You can also take a tour of the Gehry duplex in the below video in which Jordan Pollard, Make It Right's research, design, and development manager, points out a few of the highlights. Any thoughts?