GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - With every passing week, the Mississippi Aquarium continues to take shape with the frames of all the buildings up and the trademark sails beginning to emerge.
“The sails really represent the three pillars that we are building the business on: education, conservation and community," said Kurt Allen, Chief Operating Officer for the aquarium. "So, as the sails go up, it really solidifies what our business is all about.”
The stainless steel frame of the sails was put up last week, and soon it will be surrounded by scaffolding as they prepare to use a special concrete to complete the sails.
“The design of the sails has been pretty complicated from the very beginning,” Allen explained. “From what materials to use to how do you construct it, so it doesn’t act as a real sail. Sails are meant to move things along in the water. We need ours to stay stationary."
As far as progress goes, things are moving along.
“Everything is moving at a very fast pace right now,” Allen said.
The roof of the main building has been poured and exterior walls are being built. The iron frame of the temporary exhibits building is going up, and the frame of the aviary is complete. The orange main ticketing and retail building is getting drywall inside.
The aquarium is creating a buzz across the state Allen said.
“The project as it is moving along is really getting attention from everybody in the state, and as we promote the aquarium, it’s really the state’s aquarium,” he said.
The bulk of the funding for the $100 million project is coming from city, state and federal money, but 10 percent will come through corporate sponsorships and individual donations. A second public fundraiser, Splash Bash, will be held at Jones Park in September.
Details will be available on the aquarium’s web site.