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Idaho Arena Gains Federal Support, Partners With Architect

June 22, 2017

The University of Idaho got a boost from the U.S. Forest Service as part of a national movement to expand use of wood products in construction. A highly competitive Wood Innovation Grant will help kick into high gear the construction of the Idaho Arena, a 4,700-seat sports and activity center on the Moscow campus.

“The national attention on promoting healthy forests benefits Idaho’s timber industry and our economy,” President Chuck Staben said. “Partnering with our strong natural resource industries to build an innovative building using new mass timber construction technology is exciting and demonstrates the innovation and engagement UI does so well.”

The grant program is supplying $8.3 million nationally and is being matched by $37 million from the 38 funded entities. The program is intended to bolster the removal of hazardous fuels in forests and reduce the risk of wildfires. UI was awarded $250,000 to assist with the design work for the arena.

Opsis Architecture of Portland, Oregon, was recently selected as the architect for the $30 million project. The mass timber construction identified as the construction method created a unique opportunity for firms around the world to submit proposals.

“We are particularly excited about working with the University of Idaho and the regional mass timber industry to design and create a national landmark arena that will celebrate the beauty and warmth of wood,” said Alec Holser, principal/partner at Opsis.

The general contractor for the project is Hoffman Construction Company, also based in Portland. By contracting with both early in the process, the contractor and designer will work together, alongside UI, to review all aspects of the design and build at that same time.

The project will involve Idaho’s forest industry through innovative uses of wood products, access to resources and technology. It will also serve as a learning laboratory for UI students in forestry, engineering and more.

The arena will be built on the north side of the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center. It will be home to Vandal basketball and volleyball and will also serve as an event center for other university activities. The benefit to the university, its students and alumni was recognized by the University of Idaho Alumni Association, which recently committed $500,000 to the project. The project gained early support from the students who voted to contribute $15 per semester through student fees, adding another $260,000 annually to the pot.

This project, “Design and engineering solutions for heavy timber commercial construction in the Inland Northwest,” was funded under U.S. Forest Service. The total amount of the federal funds for the project is $250,000, which amounts to 66 percent of the project. The total amount of non-federal funds for the project is $125,000, which amount to 33 percent of the total cost of the project.

Media Contact:
Jodi Walker
Director, University Communications

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, a research and Extension center in Twin Falls, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to more than 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference and Sun Belt Conference. Learn more: