Brad Pitt on Thursday announced the winners of his Sustainable Design Competition for New Orleans: New York city architects Andrew Kotchen and Matthew Berman, of the firm Workshop/APD.
“I’m very, very excited about the result,” Pitt tells PEOPLE. “There are a lot of great ideas that came across the table.”
Pitt co-sponsored the design contest with environmental organization Global Green USA to find an affordable, Earth-friendly plan for building housing and community centers in neighborhoods ravaged a year ago by Hurricane Katrina.
After touring New Orleans on Wednesday and Thursday, Pitt was shocked by the state of affairs. “This is a social justice issue,” he tells PEOPLE. “As I walk around, I’m appalled and embarrassed that people don’t even have the opportunity to return. This isn’t supposed to happen here.”
Pitt, 42, a longtime architecture buff, served as chairman of the contest jury. He came up with the idea for the competition at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York City last fall.
Pitt’s sponsorship also included a $200,000 investment in the contest, which drew 3,000 applicants from around the globe and had been narrowed down to six finalists.
Global Green USA is providing technical assistance in green standards for 10,000 buildings in New Orleans. Earlier this summer the group opened a resource center give the city’s residents free design advice and information about environmentally friendly building products and strategies.
“My goal,” Pitt said on the Today show last month, “is to see something tangible, to see something built that can become an example, a template … a flagship for other people who are facing rebuilding.”