URBANbuild is a design|build program in which teams of students take on the design and construction of prototypical structures for New Orleans’ neighborhoods. URBANbuild has partnered in the development of these homes with Make It Right, Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans, Inc., and Harmony Neighborhood Development.

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 USGBC. The United States Green Building Council awards LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification to buildings with improved performance in energy savings, CO2 emissions reduction, and improved indoor environmental quality, to name a few.

In 2010, URBANbuild was invited to collaborate with Brad Pitt’s Make it Right 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 addition to dwelling prototypes, URBANbuild has also investigated sustainable agricultural maintenance methods with the design and construction of the Mobile Goat Unit and has designed and installed a mobile assembly of market pods to aid in the development of local businesses in Central City.

Several URBANbuild projects have 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. And, in 2016, URBANbuild Residence 10 was recognized with an AIA New Orleans Honorable Mention.


In the summer of 2005, a small group of students and faculty conceived of a design/build program to address the deteriorating conditions in many neighborhoods of urban New Orleans, and the URBANbuild program was created to provide students with the opportunity to work collectively on the design, development, and construction of affordable housing prototypes. The goal was to provide struggling neighborhoods with some sense of progress and value.

However, in August of 2005, New Orleans was struck by a storm that was anticipated but never truly planned for adequately with regard to response and infrastructure. The city was left 80% damaged, the population was immediately reduced by one third, and the occupants of the city’s most underprivileged areas struggled to return with limited community or economic or social foundation in place. Rebuilding became a critical task. Suddenly, URBANbuild was challenged with explicitly addressing the eminent threat of water and the changing social demographics of a city struggling to survive.


URBANbuild evolved as a Post-Katrina program that addresses and investigates Pre-Katrina problems. It relies upon a comprehensive understanding of New Orleans as a city in a constant process of reconsidering and defining itself. The program challenges designers to both respect and question the architectural history of New Orleans and possibly redefine a contemporary vernacular; URBANbuild is a program of optimism and investment.

In recent years, the program has been faced with new challenges that result from positive economic growth in the city. The projects URBANbuild has completed, along with investments from various other nonprofit and private entities, have helped increase the value of property in Central City, the neighborhood in which many URBANbuild projects have been


URBANbuild Creators

Doug Harmon, Ila Berman, Reed Kroloff,  Elizabeth Gamard, Sam Richards, Byron Mouton, Emilie Taylor (in collaboration with her classmates – class of 2006)

Special recognition is given to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the grant funding awarded in support of the program’s establishment following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Those grant requirements were fulfilled through the efforts of:

  • Ila Berman, Principal Investigator, Former Co-Director
  • Byron Mouton, Present Director
  • Sam Richards, Co-Director of Construction
  • Reed Kroloff, Former Dean
  • Alan Lewis, Former Studio Instructor
  • Mona El Khafif, Former Studio Instructor
  • Scott Bernhard, Studio Instructor
  • Coleman Coker, Studio Instructor
  • Emilie Taylor, Former Project Manager


URBANbuild students, Emilie Taylor, Will Crocker, Dave Armentor, Jeff Johnston, Byron Mouton

Website Creation

Julie Charvat, Matt Fox, Meaghan Hartney, Byron Mouton


  • Albert Small, Jr.
  • American Bar Association
  • Andy Byrnes, The Construction Zone
  • Harmony Neighborhood Development
  • Kilgust Family
  • Len Reggio
  • Make It Right NOLA
  • Michael Lacey
  • Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans, Inc.
  • Raymond Wooldridge Foundation
  • Robert and Michelle Diener Foundation
  • Roloson Foundation
  • The State of Qatar
  • Tulane City Center
  • Tulane School of Architecture
  • US Department of Housing and Urban Development