The University of Idaho’s New Basketball Arena Wins “Intermountain Project of the Year”

The University of Idaho needed a new home for its basketball program. According to Dennis Becker, dean and professor of natural resource policy at the University of Idaho’s College of Natural Resources, as the projected advanced, “local forest industry partners pushed the university leadership to think about something different from the normal concrete and steel approach.”

Designed by a team led by Opsis Architecture and built by Hoffman Construction, both based in Portland, Oregon, the entirety of the 62,000-sq-ft arena was delivered via CM/GC, except for the mass timber roof structure, which was procured as design-build. This delivery method helped the roof’s design-builder, Vancouver-based StructureCraft, bring a master-builder approach to the building’s most distinctive feature.

An opportunity to showcase the benefit and capabilities of mass timber, the arena’s distinctive design includes a double curved roofline inspired by the rolling hills of the Palouse region, which creates a stunning visual to showcase the long-span capabilities of wood and mass timber.

The university received a wood innovation grant from the USDA Forest Service in 2017, which helped the project team explore ways they could push beyond the perceived limitations of mass timber. In 2018, the project received a major funding boost when Idaho Central Credit Union purchased naming rights to the facility for $10 million. Besides serving as home for men’s and women’s basketball, the $50-million, 4,000-plus-seat arena includes practice courts, locker rooms, the alumni center and offices and hosts concerts and events.

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