URBANbuild is a design/build program where teams of students design and construct prototypical structures for New Orleans’ neighborhoods. URBANbuild partners with a community organization in the development of these homes. Partners have included Make It Right, Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans, Inc., Harmony Neighborhood Development, and Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
The program is an educational collaboration of individuals, organizations, and businesses committed to revitalizing New Orleans’ rich cultural and architectural heritage. Neighborhoods are strengthened by the rebuilding of homes, allied professionals and educators come together for a common cause, and students develop as designers with a deep understanding and commitment to the urban environment.
In 2009, URBANbuild Prototype 4 received LEED Silver certification from the United States Green Building Council. The USGBC awards Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification to buildings with improved performance in energy savings and indoor environmental quality, and CO2 emissions reduction.
In 2010, URBANbuild was invited to collaborate with Brad Pitt’s Make It Right program to develop a residential duplex strategy for the devastated 9th Ward neighborhood. Students completed the design and construction of their prototype in conjunction with local architecture firms BILD Design and John Williams Architects.
In 2021 during the construction of UB16 students formed a rapport with the neighboring Bethlehem Lutheran Church (BLC), a local church with a focus on community outreach. Conversations revealed a common interest in equitable community investment in Central City, resulting in more formal partnership to achieve this mission. This collaboration was set to realize a shared vision of a multi-family ADA housing project with a multi-year phasing strategy coordinated with the church site across the street.
Many URBANbuild projects received recognition from the American Institute of Architects. The URBANbuild 3 residence was awarded an AIA New Orleans Honor Award in 2009. URBANbuild residences 4 and 7 were awarded AIA New Orleans Merit Awards in 2010 and 2013, respectively. The URBANbuild 8 Market Pods received an AIA New Orleans Honor Award in 2014. In 2016, URBANbuild residence 10 was recognized with an AIA New Orleans Honorable Mention. In 2018 URBANbuild residence 12 received an AIA New Orleans Design Award. In 2020 URBANbuild 14 received two awards from AIA New Orleans, the people’s choice award in addition to an honorable mention for residential design. In 2023 URBANbuild 18 received the AIA New Orleans people’s choice award.