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Summer Project Restores Charm to Historic Administration Building

May 31, 2017

The University of Idaho, in partnership with Idaho’s Division of Public Works, will invest more than $2 million this summer to protect the historic architecture and improve the safety of the Administration Building at the heart of the Moscow campus.

Renovations on the building — one of four UI-owned buildings on the National Register of Historic Places — begin this week and continue through mid-October. The project consists of interior and exterior components, funded by $2.3 million in allocations for FY2015 and FY2016 from the state’s Permanent Building Fund.

The central focus of the foyer remodel is improving safety on the stairs: Modern safety standards require gaps in handrails to be no more than 4 inches. The Admin Building’s stairs have a much larger gap.

“You could pass a basketball through those rails,” said Ray Pankopf, director of Architectural and Engineering Services at UI. The university has received citations from the state’s Division of Building and Safety over the stairs, and has been wrestling with how to address the issue without degrading their historic look.

To solve the problem, UI is installing a secondary handrail with a glass panel, inset about 3 inches from the existing rail. The museum-like solution will protect building users while preserving the visual integrity of the historic space.

UI also will remove fire doors on each floor of the foyer, restoring the historic archways separating each wing from the stairwell. The stairs also will get new cast-iron treads, plaster and paint, and damage to the marble, terrazzo and wood flooring will be addressed.

Other details include improvements to light fixtures and fire safety systems in the building. Repairs will be made to the mosaic located at the building’s north entrance, and a slanted concrete step at that entrance will be replaced with granite.

During construction, the Admin Building’s front foyer will be closed to the public, and several parking spaces in the front of the building will be reserved for construction equipment. An access tunnel will allow users to pass through the construction zone on all floors to access each wing of the building, restrooms and the elevator. Later this summer, the Admin Building’s north entrance will also be closed while the mosaic and stairs are repaired.

On the exterior of the building, UI is prioritizing masonry repairs to address safety and structural issues first, and then improve weather tightness. Facilities would also like to repair the historical cast stone ornamentation on the building that has been degraded by time, said Guy Esser, UI project architect. 

“This funding amount will likely not address all of the exterior repairs needed, but will provide a good start on any critical repairs and provide a road map for funding and executing additional repairs in the future,” Esser said.

Depending upon progress made this summer and the results of the exterior surveys conducted earlier this spring, additional amounts may be requested in future years. 

The project will be led by Golis Construction of Moscow, and equipment will be staged at the front of the building near the I Bench and auditorium pullout on north side. Pedestrian access in front of the Admin building will be maintained. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety is working closely with the fire department and emergency responders to ensure access in the event of an emergency.

Read more about the Admin remodel at Updates to the project timeline will be available at 

Media Contact:
Savannah Tranchell
University Communications & Marketing

Lisa Ormond
Communications Manager, Infrastructure

The Admin Building foyer will be renovated this summer.

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: