Lawrence Tech helps Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation build houses in New Orleans

Release Date: September 14, 2010

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Lawrence Technological University has dispatched two students and a mobile design studio of 11 of its high-end computers equipped with professional design software to help Make It Right, an organization founded by Brad Pitt to build green homes for victims of Hurricane Katrina victims, prepare for a blitz build in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans.

Eleven university students from Lawrence Tech, Tulane University and ITT Technical Institute are spending five days this week analyzing the architectural and construction plans for compliance with green building standards.

Lily Diego and Kristen Bettis are Lawrence Tech graduate students working on master’s degrees in architecture with a concentration in sustainability. Ralph Nelson, assistant dean of Lawrence Tech’s College of Architecture and Design, will also be in New Orleans this week.

More than 4,000 homes in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Two years later, when actor Brad Pitt toured the city, the neighborhood was still deserted and devastated. Pitt promised the families he met there that he would help make it right. He founded Make It Right to build 150 affordable, green, storm-resistant homes for families living in the Lower 9th Ward when the storm hit. To date, Make It Right has 50 homes completed or under construction.

Make It Right houses are built to meet the platinum level for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. The university students will analyze the architectural plans for 40 new homes to confirm what construction materials are needed to meet LEED standards. As part of the process, they will calculate the cost of the materials that need to be ordered.

“We appreciate how quickly the university put this project together. The knowledge and enthusiasm of university students will help us meet our construction goals in the Lower 9th Ward, and we look forward to working with Lawrence Tech in the future,” said Stephen Ragan, director of development and government relations for the Make It Right Foundation.

The university students will be using AutoCAD and Autodesk Revit professional software on Lenovo W510 laptop computers. These personal computers are loaded with all the software that students need for their courses, and this year architecture students received a software package with a student retail value of $12,360. In 2001, Lawrence Tech was one of the first colleges in the nation to provide laptops to every undergraduate student.

“Lawrence Tech is one of the few universities capable of deploying what amounts to a mobile design studio so quickly,” said Glen LeRoy, dean of the university’s College of Architecture and Design. “This is because Lawrence Tech provides its students with unparalleled access to electronic technology, an outgrowth of the university’s early commitment to provide students with all the software they need to excel in their studies.”

For additional information on the computer software provided to architecture students at Lawrence Tech, go to

For information on Make It Right, go to

Lawrence Technological University,, offers more than 100 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus is in Southfield, and programs are also offered in Detroit, Lansing, Petoskey and Traverse City. Lawrence Tech also offers programs with partner universities in Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.