September 18, 2008

New Orleans Rebuilding Project Begins

Model, garden prototype

Actor Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation selected KieranTimberlake among thirteen architecture firms to design safe, affordable, and environmentally sensitive housing to rebuild New Orleans' Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Lower Ninth Ward. Construction at Tennessee Street, the site of our first house, began on July 1, 2008; homeowners are scheduled to move in during September. John Williams Architects of New Orleans is the Executive Architect responsible for construction documents and administration.

Site prior to construction

The building envelope is assembled with structural insulated panels (SIPs), off-site fabricated wall and roof units that are made by sandwiching a core of rigid foam plastic insulation between two structural skins; in this case, the foam-core is expanded polystyrene (EPS), and the skins are steel. The SIPs are snapped into a track secured to the perimeter of the house. Window openings are factory-perforated, punched out on site, and filled with window units. Galvanized steel stud walls for the interior are framed off site in sections. TimberSIL, a material made of wood fused with glass, is used for the deck surfaces and the trellis because it is durable, non-toxic, and sustainable.

SIPs Installation

Detail showing how SIPs panels are installed on track

A. Zahner Company provided the ornamental railing for the porch. The railing is made in sections from quarter-inch thick aluminum sheets, cut with a water jet in their Kansas City factory, and shipped to the site. Though aluminum can be more expensive than steel, it is lightweight and easier to cut, and therefore more cost efficient. 
Heating and cooling are provided by a geothermal pump using constant below-ground temperatures to heat or cool water, which is then looped back to the house through a network of pipes. The house is also equipped with rainwater-harvesting pipes to provide non-potable water. A wood trellis, installed on the side of the house for climbing vines, creates a natural canopy for the house and a habitat for native species.

Nearly completed home on Tennessee Street

Make It Right provides valuable insight into the success that can be achieved through trans-disciplinary collaboration as it facilitates relationships between its core team (Graft, William McDonough + Partners, Cherokee Gives Back Foundation, and Make It Right staff), the leaders of a local, neighborhood-led coalition of not-for-profits, and invited architectural firms.  
To find out how you can help sponsor the construction of homes in the Lower Ninth Ward, visit Make It Right, New Orleans.  
Construction photos courtesy of John Williams Architects.