In fall 2006, 17 students at Tulane University School of Architecture began working on a hands-on housing project that will prepare them for the
real world outside of college.

This project, however, is not just giving them work experience—the students are also playing an instrumental role in the rebuilding process of New Orleans in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective method.

Tulane architecture students at work on the house.

The Green Build is a modular house in Central City, on Seventh and Danneel streets. Collaborating with the architecture students are the Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS), Tulane Urban Build, and Housing and Urban Development (HUD)—which donated a grant of $300,000 to the Tulane School of Architecture. Architect and visiting professor Coleman Coker is leading the students in the project.

The process has three main phases: research, design and construction.

There were weeks of intensive research, conducted in the areas of modular construction and prefabrication processes, emphasizing the importance of eco-friendly materials and methods of design. The students themselves designed the house, after working individually and in groups.

The Green Build house is set on a lot that had been abandoned even before Hurricane Katrina. The house is designed to be “a sustainable machine,” says Jared Watson, a participating student. “We have P.V. panels on the roof and sun shades to reduce the energy bills and a rain-water collector to reduce water bills,” he explains. He adds that the house will save thousands of gallons of water per year. Upon completion in mid-May—just in time for Tulane’s graduation ceremony—a displaced family currently residing in Texas will move in. 

A rendering of the interior’s final look.

The Green Build house is 1,200 square feet and features three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, kitchen and dining room that maximize every square inch of space.

The modules were divided into three sections: they were prefabricated in a warehouse space, then shipped to the site where the students began construction.
Watson says that construction is an art in itself. “Learning about building details is very important. Realizing your design without a third party is an invaluable experience.”

The project has also strengthened the students’ bond with the city. Though some of them may leave New Orleans after graduation to pursue careers in other cities, some of them, like Watson, plan on staying.

The framing was prefabricated in a warehouse.

After the house is complete, two more houses are in the works—more if the program can receive the proper funding.

In the meantime, one more family will be able to once again call New Orleans home.  
Information at

Tulane architecture students at work on various parts of the house.

The house takes shape.

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