Duplex by Frank Gehry
for Make it Right


Duplex by Frank Gehry

Architect Frank Gehry has completed his first building for Make It Right, the charity founded by Brad Pitt to rehouse families made homeless in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Duplex by Frank Gehry

Designed to be both sustainable and affordable, the two-storey building contains a three bedroom residence at the front and a single bedroom home at the back.

Duplex by Frank Gehry

A canopy of solar panels provides power for the building and also shelters two terraces on the roof.

Duplex by Frank Gehry

Fibre cement boards provide a damage-resistant exterior cladding and are painted in different colours to identify each home.

Duplex by Frank Gehry

“I wanted to make a house that I would like to live in," said Frank Gehry. "One that responded to the history, vernacular and climate of New Orleans."

Duplex by Frank Gehry

Pitt founded the charity back in 2006 with an aim to build over 150 homes in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans and has enlisted a host of architects to help, including Morphosis, Pugh + Scarpa and David Adjaye.

Duplex by Frank Gehry

See all our stories about Make It Right projects »

Duplex by Frank Gehry

Photography is by Chad Chenier/Make It Right.

Here's some more information from  Make it Right:

First Frank Gehry Home Completed by Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation
LEED Platinum home is the only Gehry house in Louisiana

Make It Right, founded by Brad Pitt to build sustainable homes for communities in need, is proud to announce the completion of the organization's first home by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Gehry's duplex design was completed this week in New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward, the neighborhood most devastated by Hurricane Katrina. This home is one of only 22 Gehry residences in the United States and the only Gehry home in Louisiana.

“I really believe in what Brad is doing for the community and was honored to be included,” said Frank Gehry. “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.”

Design features of the 1780 square foot home include: front-to-back duplex organization allowing for maximum privacy between the homes, better flow of the interior spaces and a well-proportioned yard for each house; a waterproof solar canopy on the 510 square foot roof terrace and six additional canopied porches; open interior and exterior staircases; and oversized windows in the bedrooms.

The front house has three bedrooms and two bathrooms; the rear home has one bedroom and one bathroom. Bathrooms on both levels are stacked, staircases are stacked and the great room concept for living, dining and kitchen were included in the design for construction efficiency.

All Make It Right's homes are built to LEED Platinum certification standards.

“Make It Right is so grateful to Frank and the team at Gehry Partners for designing this beautiful home,” said Tom Darden, Make It Right’s executive director. “Frank’s work proves that beautiful, elegant, ground-breaking designs can go hand-in-hand with the practical needs and culture of a community.”

  • MmmmHmm

    Whaaaat?! Frank Gehry goes to Home Depot.

  • Bhavnesh

    A dolls house?

  • Philippe

    Ok for the exterior design, but the color is awful. I don't really like the inside. It's look boring. I love the roof and the terrasse on the top.

  • Ladybeth

    A house he would like to live in? I feel sorry for him. How can a house be scary and boring at the same time?

  • Christian

    Maybe the best project by Frankieboy for years… not maybe – f****ing for sure! Congratulations for going back to the roots and doing some serious architecture and not this fluffy somethings.

    • Colonel Pancake

      This is not serious architecture. It's rather serious marketing with a garnish of good intentions.

  • Though it’s always fun to criticize starchitects, I’m not going to do that here. Good on Pitt and Gehry for trying to offer innovative solutions for a community who have suffered unimaginable sorrow, and are sill trying to recover 8 years after one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States.

    Yes, the colors are campy, and the interiors are uninspiring. That’s. Not. The. Point. Personally, I would like to learn more about these houses:

    * Overall price, to see if they are as ‘affordable’ as they claim.

    * Drawing plans of the different levels, to assess the layout.

    * What’s the story behind the solar panels installed. Are they being subsidized? are they intended to heat the water consumed by the residents, or do they power the electric lights.

    Maybe Gehry is lying a bit when he says this is the kind of house he’d like to live in were he a citizen of The Big Easy —for starters, it’s way to orthogonal for his kind of personal taste ;)— but I still applaud the effort, and hope it’ll make a difference.

    • The houses are given to the families. They elect for the service and are placed on a list. Once on the list they choose which architect’s house they want to live in. They are given an optional loan that does not require repayment, but encourages it (in order to keep loan rates low for other families in the program that do elect to pay theirs off).

      I think most of the people that commented on this as being ugly don’t even come close to comprehending what it means to lose your home and a large part of your life. Also, the architects that are doing these projects do them pro-bono.

  • anonim

    The ugliest thing I have ever seen.

    • Martin

      If this is the ugliest thing you've ever seen, you are truly blessed.

  • sam

    Instead of a criticizing I think we should be giving these two praise for helping people who are in need.

  • Macker

    I’m all for helping people in need and commend them for doing so. However this doesn’t negate the fact that this is without doubt one of the ugliest houses I’ve ever seen. It lacks form and elegance.

  • Yancy

    “Architect Frank Gehry has completed his first building… to rehouse families made homeless in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.”

    It took over 6 years to finish the first one?

    • noviardi

      Yeah, the victims have already moved on and had a better life than this, seriously.

  • JeffK

    It might not appeal to Dezeen readers, but I think if you lost your house in a hurricane you would think this is pretty amazing. Well done Pitt and Gehry.

  • Brian

    I praise this work as well as the other work being done by Make it Right. This is a potential home for a family. I wonder what they are going to think when their solar panels fly off during the next storm?

  • Thanks for the help Frank and Brad. Good intentions aren’t enough. I’m no geinus but I guarantee you can pick up those solar panels in Mississippi or Arkansas after the next hurricane or the pawn shop a week after the house changes hands. WE all tout good design but a well designed house will not work for anyone/everyone. Good design includes the user. The 9th ward is dirt poor; anyone ask why? How about the fact it was below sea level? No rich person is going to live there, a nice house would be way too much to insure.

    So what happens next class? “Low income”, or poor for the practically minded (I should know I’m in the class), move in and build the cheapest type of house that offers the best design for the money and area, otherwise known as the “Shotgun” style- long and narrow, good air flow w/o AC. Basically a 2-story matchbox that can be swept away and easily rebuilt. In the end the single house is a nice gesture but ultimately a complete and total waste. It’s almost like good people don’t know how to be charitable anymore… this is crap we can do better. What sickens me most is that I have to shine this turd so it will be accepted by anyone that can make a change. Help, anyone please!

  • Chris

    I’m all for the MIR program, and good on Gehry for getting involved. But. My. God. I really think this could look better. Maybe it functions just fine, but it would be nice for Gehry to be able to prove a point about being able to create architecture outside of massive budgets and eccentric structures.

    I realize that certain things like vinyl windows are a necessary evil at this price point, but the whole composition just looks jumbled and unclear, 90 degree angles or not in plan. If a 2nd year student put this design out they’d be pretty hard pressed by the jury to explain why it looked the way it did.

  • cethuesen

    He should stick to curves…

  • cethuesen

    And when the next hurricane comes – there go the sun panels…

  • lol

    Why do we even pay attention to this man?

  • Nic

    Have you ever seen the average American house? Well, here it is. As it should have been.
    Just because it’s Gehry’s it doesn’t mean it has to be “Gehry”.
    Normal people will live in these houses and it’s perfectly right that they look normal.
    Although I think they’re overall very nice and very much Gehry. They remind me of his Santa Monica house.
    I love the contemporary look given by the abrupt cuts without loosing a very traditional look.

  • Zaedrus

    Regardless of purpose, good altruistic intentions and gratitude of potential owners, it's shocking that a master architect put his name on something this clunky. The same materials and size could be arranged to a better effect.

    The better the effect, the more pride of ownership, the more likely it is to be cared for, the more likely it is to hold value, and so on.

  • Tomas

    This building proves Gehry is a bad architect with no sense other than a sculptural intention. Please go back and ONLY make jewelery and art, not architecture.

  • Michael

    The 21st Century Pruitt-Igoe. 7 years later, still mostly unbuilt suburban utopian neighborhood that ignores history as much as it ignores context and its environment. Harry Conick Jrs Habitat for Humanity project across the boulevard costs a fraction of what these cost, were finished years ago and don’t damage the fabric of community.

    This is what white, colonialism looks like in modern architecture. Every time I visit the project, I see nothing but fantasies being lived out 1 storey above the public, protected by rent-a-cops with people with money from out of state looking to own famous architectural design.

  • I realize that my frustration with the stupidity and inactivity of most of you will not be eased by leaving this comment but I have to anyway: What have ANY of you done AT ALL to alleviate or improve the situation in New Orleans, or any other place for that matter?

    You beg architects to work for everyday people, and then you question the manner in which they help.Your comments are based on how the house looks! So many families in New Orleans STILL live in house with holes in the roof and broken exterior cladding. YOU MISS THE ENTIRE POINT OF THIS PROJECT IF YOU THINK THESE HOMES ARE SUPPOSED TO BE EXERCISES IN AESTHETICS AND ELEGANCE!

  • One of the few things Gehry has done that I like. I love the rooftop balconies. However he still lacks a decent sense of proportion. Let’s just say that many an architect could have done better. It is better than several other entries. At least it doesn’t make you feel wobbly, like most of his buildings.

  • Edward

    Compared to the the typical North American new home – with its superficial brick facade, jumbled dormers and awkwardly placed Palladian windows – Gehry's duplex is brilliant. And for those who think the colour is too much, take a look at the other houses in the neighbourhood. It's about context.

  • H-J

    This looks pre-Katrina, where his regular stuff looks post-Katrina. Just waiting for the distortion to kick in and make this a Gehry.

  • Ema

    The quality of living isn't defined by ugly or pretty exterior, it's defined by the feeling of home and comfort in a whole. So, the exterior design makes this house non-home? I don't think so. Let people inhabit the place, so they can tell best, cause I can't tell looking at the photos.

  • M-F

    Having done research on post disaster recovery in general, most common issues are that architects don’t do enough social, ethnical and economical research of the place where they are rebuilding which results in possibly even good architecture (which in this case I don’t think is) but it doesn’t respond to the needs. Yes it is great that they are helping, but it is not about showing off or having starchitects designing the homes. I know Brad Pitt brings in publicity, but it is quality that is needed.
    And any kind of home for ‘desperate people’ is not solution, give them what is going to work for them, improve their conditions and yes make it a place they would like to live in, not the house that Gehry would like to live in? He is not going to be living there is he? That makes no sense, as if he is trying to justify it.

  • A life-size doll house! Sustainable of course…

  • designMM

    Gehry probably spent all of 5 minutes with the concept (and that was while having coffee with Brad and entourage for a photo op) and then passed on to one of his office slaves for the execution. Out here in LA, Frank has a reputation as a narcissist’s narcissist… a legend in his own mind. A total arrogant ass if you ask me (as I’ve seen him in action at various small functions). Quite frankly, as a designer myself, a guy working in home depot’s lumber dept. could have designed this better. Frank, you dropped the ball big time and it shows like a cheap suit. I’m sure deep down (as a design aficionado himself), Brad must truly be mortified.

    Charity begins in the heart, which is evident by the Jolie-Pitt’s umpteen trips, meetings, public relations, etc. to the region. I think next time, hold a contest and pick the top 10 designs from architects all over the country/world, who might really take an interest in the cause and the families who really have to live in these developments vs. another PR opportunity for an overrated self absorbed LA celebrity architect. Frank, I think you should be thoroughly embarrassed (and eat some humble pie) by the feedback on this site. You could use it, clearly.

  • Jordi Panzram

    I don't like Gehry that much, but I dislike obnoxious internet nobodies even more. I also dislike it when architects say something "is boring". Hey, you want to be entertained, Mr. Fancy Architect? What about going to the circus laughing at the clowns? This is a house for relocating victims of a hurricane, not a cutsey project for some bland competition.

  • Chris

    OK, yes it’s good that this scheme is up and running and yes aesthetics don’t really mean crap all when you’ve lost your home BUT… surely there was some point to hiring Gehry? Or was it just down to having a Starchitect’s name on the project? When you have one of the highest paid Architects in the world design you a house, you should expect not only a functional home but a beautiful one, too.

  • Ben

    What happens in the next hurricane? This house doesn’t look very solid, the solar roofs look like they are ripped off fast.

  • jason

    Back to roots for Gehry – with solar panels intead of chain-link, softer colours and painted gwb.

  • I’d be very happy with this if my home had been flattened by a hurricane. As for the pinkness, well that’s what pots and brushes are for. I do wonder how long the solar panels would last in the next hurricane, though.