ICCU Arena Showcases Idaho Wood, Demonstrates U of I’s Rise
Like the wood that provides its distinctive, sleek profile, the new Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU) Arena on the University of Idaho Moscow campus grew gracefully from the ground up.
As the country’s first engineered wood venue of its kind, its roots stem from trees grown in the Gem State and showcase the $2.4 billion per year wood industry. Inside, the beautiful glulam beams tower over the first court dedicated to Vandal Basketball since Memorial Gym opened in 1928.
“Vandal Basketball is the obvious beneficiary of this amazing arena, but it means so much more to Vandal Athletics, the university, our community and the state of Idaho. It is a place where we can all unite — whether that is a game, a concert or other events,” said Terry Gawlik, director of athletics at U of I.
The arena opens in October — amid a flurry of activity including Homecoming and Leadership Weekend — in a celebration 50 years in the making.
“The ICCU Arena is the visual proof of the vitality of our university. We are a university on the rise and this facility is the catalyst for a new era for the University of Idaho. It showcases many of the strengths that make Idaho great — its natural resources, its students and its community,” said U of I President Scott Green.
Made of engineered wood from Idaho’s forests — including the U of I Experimental Forest — the U.S. Forest Service became an early supporter, awarding the university a Wood Innovation Grant in 2017. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen attended the groundbreaking in June 2019.
Collaboration with Idaho’s wood industry is vital to the success of the construction. From the 442 tons of glulam beams to more than 45,000 cubic feet of wood products, Idaho wood is the foundation on which this project is built.
“The industry as a whole is really proud of the project,” said Jennifer Okerlund, executive director of the Idaho Forest Products Commission. “It’s such a large collaboration. You have this gorgeous architectural wonder whose materials are supplied from partners throughout the state of Idaho. When we look at it, we see the amazing creativity of how we can utilize mass timber.”
Mass timber construction is new in the U.S. and teaching students about the technology is important.
“It’s a hot product,” said Dennis Becker, dean of the College of Natural Resources. “There’s definitely a lot of excitement around it in engineering and architecture circles. It’s beautiful, it feels good, people want to be in it, and from a carbon standpoint, there is long-term storage of carbon in those wood products.”
50 Years in the Making
It seems fitting that the basketball season of 2020-21 played out on the aged floors of Memorial Gym. It is here that generations of Vandals tallied victories. Built in memory of all Idahoans who lost their lives in World War I, the gothic-style building complete with leather headed-footballer gargoyles could not be any more different from the smooth-lined, modern and versatile ICCU Arena.
“The new arena will be a game changer for our Women’s Basketball Program,” said Jon Newlee, women’s head basketball coach. “This beautiful new building will have a huge positive impact on our recruiting as well as the current team. The arena will be a source of Vandal Pride not only for the players, but for the entire student body and our community. Go Vandals!”
Article by Jodi Walker, University Communications and Marketing
Published in the Spring 2021 issue of Here We Have Idaho.