"This competition asks the question, can this catastrophe be turned into opportunity? Can we create for these neighborhoods and its families something even better than they had before? We encourage anyone with an idea to get involved," the actor said Thursday in a statement.
Pitt is teaming up with Global Green USA, a national environmental organization, on the design project. Pitt, who's with Angelina Jolie in Namibia where they're expecting a child, will lead a jury of architects and local leaders to choose designs by six finalists who will then work with local neighborhoods on more detailed proposals.
Matt Petersen, the Global Green USA president who recently returned from visiting New Orleans, said residents were worried both about the slow pace of reconstruction and the coming hurricane season which many fear will result in more damage even as they struggle to rebuild.
"It's a frantic pace of trying to move things forward and at the same time not enough is happening. That's the view I heard from several local residents," he said.
Petersen expects designs will be submitted in June and the finalists to be chosen in July.