New Orleans

The Garrett residence, an early version of the Adjaye prototype, features an inverted roof to channel rainwater to the collection system. This system proved to be too costly, and was replaced with a simple rainwatergathering technology on subsequent designs.


Since many of the Lower Ninth Ward residents who drowned post-Katrina were tragically trapped in their attics, MIR mandated rooftop access for all the homes, and participating architects took different approaches. London-based David Adjaye of Adjaye Associates designed the rooftop as usable space. 'It's such a great idea'these families have lived their whole lives below the levees, and now they're able to stand on top of their house and get a new perspective on their neighborhood,' says Darden.

On the Garrett house, the team sought to incorporate a lift from grade to the 8-footraised first floor without compromising the aesthetics. 'We modified the core shape to conceal Ms. Garrett's lift in the center of the house,' explains Sarah Howell of local architect of record Williams Architects, who worked on all of the MIR houses. 'We also spent time figuring out the best method of construction for this roof. We looked at a tensile system, a stick-framed system, and ultimately decided to panelize it.'

Though Adjaye's design initially featured silk-screened wall paneling, this detail couldn't be realized within the budget. But MIR was able to include the stadium-style seating adjacent to the regular stairs on the front stoop by substituting wood instead of the more expensive cast-in-place concrete (as originally specified by Adjaye).