09/03/2007 at 01:00 AM EDT
A stone's throw from levees breached by Hurricane Katrina, a striking modern structure by architects Matthew Berman and Andrew Kotchen is rising. And a certain movie star is beaming like a proud papa. "I want to be here when this is finished—and visit a month after a family moves in," says Brad Pitt
, who with the environmental group Global Green USA and the Home Depot Foundation sponsored construction of the two-story, 1,400-sq.-ft. house for low-income victims of the disaster. Now they're hoping to build more, using private donations, and to eventually house 23 families in similar buildings. On Aug. 21 Pitt gave PEOPLE a tour of the home, pointing out eco-friendly features like solar panels and treated wood that protects against mold. Those tweaks will "reduce utility bills by 75 percent," says Global Green president/CEO Matt Petersen. Their plans may also help revive a great city. "I think we'll really improve quality of life," says Pitt. "That's what I call a victory."
For more information on the project, go to HOLYCROSSPROJECT.GLOBALGREEN.ORG