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Biloxi Bay Bridge, Mississippi, USA

Issue 54 Apr/May 2010 : Architectural : Bridge


When Hurricane Katrina swept into the Gulf Coast of the Unites States in 2005, it wrought devastation on much of the region. Among the infrastructure destroyed that day was the Biloxi Bay Bridge, severing the connection between the close knit communities of Biloxi and Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

As a major regional artery, the loss of this link across the Biloxi Bay presented a significant disruption to the economy and social fabric of both the local communities and the entire region.
A replacement bridge was urgently needed, a bridge that would be higher, stronger and more beautiful than the one that had stood before it. As part of this effort, Illumination Arts was engaged to provide the design for the aesthetic lighting of the structure.

As part of their research for the project, the IA team explored the social and symbolic importance of the bridge in the lives of the residents of the two cities. As such, this connection across the bay became the driving visual inspiration for the night time presence of the bridge.

The key elements of the design consist of a ‘necklace’ of point sources that visually connect the two communities, shore-to-shore across the bay. This necklace would serve to symbolise not only their physical connection via the bridge but also the strong interconnection of the communities and their residents.

The second major element is the illumination of each of the bridge piers as they march across the bay in support of the structure. By illuminating the piers from the roadbed down to the footings, the bridge is visually anchored to its environment, reinforcing its strength and permanence to a community all too well aware of the vulnerability of the structures around them. 

The final result is a bridge that not only provides a means of travel throughout the Gulf Coast region, but that also serves as a emotional and visual symbol of the rebirth of this vibrant area on the mend after this devastating disaster.


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