Frank Gehry Promises Biloxi A Special Project

Architect Frank Gehry promises his Biloxi project will be a special place to display the works of an extraordinary artist.

The man who designed the new Ohr-O'Keefe museum spent the day on the coast discussing his plans. Gehry says the massive oak trees on the site provided extra incentive and imagination in planning the project. The renowned architect says good architecture involves a love affair of some kind.

And he told supporters his love for this project should be evident.

"I'm very excited about it, and I can't wait to go up in the shoo fly and see if it works," joked Frank Gehry as he addressed a breakfast meeting at the Biloxi Community Center.

Gehry shared his project vision with museum supporters. The design does include Southern touches, such as that shoo fly for example. A modernistic version will cover one of the structures on this multi pavilion project.

Gulf Coast hurricanes were also considered in the design.

"The buildings are up on stilts. If you looked, you can crawl under them. The vault is nearby, so when the storm warning comes you can grab everything and put it in the vault," Gehry said.

The architect says designing the museum around such a beautiful landscape will give the finished project a special outdoor spirit. Melding the museum with the trees was one of the challenges.

"The challenge of turning this into a real park, as well as a museum complex, as well as an important place for George Ohr, so that people will talk about it."

Museum benefactor Jerry O'Keefe says the work of this world famous architect is a good match for Biloxi.

"A combination of the situation he's going to build the museum in, combined with his creativity. It's going to be a beautiful result."

At his press conference, Gehry reflected on his inspiration. The mad potter of Biloxi, George Ohr, was never far from his thinking during the design phase. One goal was to create something memorable, without upstaging the Mad Potter.

"If you make a little box for the Ohr museum, it doesn't say very much. So we wanted the Ohr museum to be special. So, we gave it just enough whatever 'it' is to make it more special without competing with the art."

By Steve Phillips

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Get a better look at the proposed design for the Ohr Museum: