Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum Begins Construction on First Permanent Home Since Hurricane Katrina

By MarEx 2013-02-01 15:29:00

The City of Biloxi celebrates the ceremonial groundbreaking today for the new Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum building in Point Cadet. This significant milestone represents five years of effort by the City, the Museum, and the H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture design team.

The Museum’s previous home on the same site was destroyed on August, 29, 2005, by Hurricane Katrina’s 30-foot tidal surge. The building and many of the Museum’s artifacts suffered irreparable damage. Design began in 2008 on an alternate site before the project was moved back to the Museum’s original Point Cadet location in 2011.

The $7 million, 19,580 square foot Museum building will house 10,000 square feet of exhibits and gallery spaces, meeting rooms, a production shop, administrative areas, and storage. The building is elevated to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requirements for constructing within a Coastal A flood plain. In addition to creating a safe environment for artifacts, staff, and visitors, the elevating of the building allows for use of the space under the elevated platform by the Sea and Sail camp and for living exhibits. 

The building is enhanced by the development of the Biloxi Waterfront Park around the Museum, as it will give visitors the opportunity to enjoy activities within the open air pavilion and playground.  Construction of the Museum and the surrounding park will happen concurrently.

Museum Collection and Building Design
The Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum preserves and interprets the maritime history and heritage of Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Museum’s premier artifact is the sloop Nydia, built in Biloxi in 1896. The Nydia measures 30 feet long and 40 feet high with her mast raised. The main gallery is designed around the boat; the use of glass as the primary enclosure of the main gallery creates a “ship in a bottle” effect, letting the Nydia be visible from the exterior especially when dramatically lit at night, to attract visitors to the Museum. Other smaller boats will be suspended in a double-height gallery adjacent to the main gallery stair, allowing visitors to view all of the vessels from multiple angles.

Other galleries focus on Commercial Fishing, featuring the Lapeyre shrimp peeling machine that can process 1000 pounds of shrimp in a hour; Boat Building; Wooden Boats; Hurricanes; and the Environment. From within the gallery areas, glass allows for unobstructed views of Biloxi Bay and the new Waterfront Park. The building itself will be highly visible from the Ocean Springs Bridge.

The materials used in the design of the museum are both locally sourced and make reference to the Point Cadet neighborhood. Point Cadet housed the majority of the city’s seafood factories, as well as fishing families in houses of white clapboard, corrugated tin roofs, and open front porches. The design of the museum incorporates a clapboard pattern on precast concrete panels on the north, west, and south facades, and uses metal fins for sunshading the glass on the east facade. The building’s porch structures, as well as interior wood detailing, make reference to coastal wooden pier structures.  

About Daria Pizzetta, Partner-in-Charge, H3
The Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum project has special meaning for H3 Partner-in-Charge Daria Pizzetta, AIA. Born and raised on the Biloxi coast—known the Seafood Capital of the World—Pizzetta is the granddaughter of Tony Mihojevich, a veteran commercial shrimper crowned Shrimp King in 1972. She grew up connected to the maritime and seafood traditions of Biloxi’s Point Cadet.

Weeks before Hurricane Katrina, Pizzetta’s grandmother donated much of the family’s maritime memorabilia to the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum. These artifacts, along with her grandparent’s house and much of the Point Cadet neighborhood, were wiped out in the Hurricane’s 30-foot storm surge. “Everything I knew as a child is gone,” commented Pizzetta. “Photographs. The home where I spent every Sunday. My family is very fortunate and grateful that no life was lost. But we certainly did lose a lifestyle.”

The Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum honors shrimpers and fisherman, boat builders and net makers, factory and cannery workers and many others who helped build Biloxi. Daria Pizzetta’s grandfather was a shrimper for 60 years, working for a better life for his children and grandchildren. “I know he would be so proud that I have this opportunity,” continues Pizzetta. “This project is more than designing a museum...it’s rebuilding the heritage of my Gulf Coast hometown.”

In addition to the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum, H3’s recent work led by Pizzetta includes the Botanical Research Institute of Texas in Fort Worth, Texas; the new U.S. Courthouse in Jackson, Mississippi; and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Richard B. Fisher Building in Brooklyn, New York. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University and currently serves on the College of Architecture’s Advisory Panel. She has worked with the H3 team since 1982 and became a partner in 2010.

About H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture
With a legacy from 1962, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture is a collaborative community of professionals founded in 2004 by celebrated architect Hugh Hardy, FAIA, and guided by Hugh and five partners—Ariel Fausto, AIA, LEED AP, John Fontillas, AIA, LEED AP, Geoff Lynch, AIA, LEED AP, Jack Martin, AIA, LEED AP, and Daria Pizzetta, AIA. Working from our office in Manhattan, New York, H3 is a recognized leader in the planning and design of active public spaces for arts and culture.

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