Glass, Sheathing Will Enclose ICCU Arena By Winter
Like the wood that provides its distinctive profile, the new Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU) Arena on the University of Idaho Moscow campus is growing gracefully from the ground up.
When it’s completed in fall 2021, the $51 million arena – located north of the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center – will be Idaho’s first dedicated basketball facility since Memorial Gym opened in 1928.
Home to Vandal basketball programs and campus and community events – the arena will be the first engineered wood venue of its kind, built from trees grown in the Gem State.
The 67,000-square-foot structure with its graceful lines will be recognized for more than just its appearance.
ICCU Arena is a stunning facility, University of Idaho President Scott Green said. It will be not only a living laboratory that allows students to learn about wood products but demonstrate the value of Idaho’s wood products industry in large wood building construction.
The land-grant concept for the arena – tapping Idaho’s vast timber resources to build a community-oriented structure – began years ago.
Back then, the field north of the Kibbie Dome was set aside for an arena expansion but was mainly used for intramurals. In 2019 contractors broke ground for the new mass-timber structure.
Made of engineered wood from Idaho’s forests – including the U of I Experimental Forest – the main roof beams and purlins weigh a combined 442 tons and span 130 feet over the main court. Watching the beams being hoisted into place has been one of the highlights of construction, said Guy Esser, U of I project manager.
After placing the main roof beams — the largest is 10-1/4 inches wide, more than 5 feet deep and 58 feet long — contractors spanned the adjoining 80-foot-wide practice court with another set of beams.
The practice court beams have a more ornate curve, which impart a winged appearance. When both roofs are completed in October, they will be buttressed by a total of 854 glulam beams and topped with two layers of Idaho plywood.
Meanwhile, workers have begun installing plumbing, heating, ventilation and electrical systems inside the floors and walls. The plan is to have the arena enclosed with sheathing and glass before winter 2020.
“Then we can get heat in the building,” Esser said.
The concrete seating bowl that surrounds the main Vandal court will have regular seating while the west side will get retractable bleachers so the arena can be used as a multi-purpose venue.
When it’s completed, the ICCU arena will be a testament to teamwork and the versatility of mass wood construction, said Jennifer Okerlund Idaho Forest Products Commission.
“The industry as a whole is really proud of the project,” Okerlund said. “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.”
Dennis Becker, dean of the College of Natural Resources – which manages the university’s experimental forest – said the arena’s capacity for bringing the community together on multiple levels cannot be overstated.
“The building encapsulates a lot of what the College of Natural Resources is about,” Becker said. “Generations of students who came through the college, they helped manage and grow the forest. Combined with our engineering and architecture students, past and present, they all came together to produce this product. It’s inspiring. I get really excited about training our future students in that building.”
Mass timber construction – in which buildings incorporate a large volume of sustainable wood products rather than steel and concrete – is popular in other countries, but not until recently has it caught on in the U.S.
“It’s a hot product,” Becker said. “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.”
From its big-shouldered beams and columns to its cedar wrap and dowel-laminated ceilings, the combination of sustainable materials and boundless, artful design will make the arena a centerpiece for athletics and learning.
Okerlund, whose organization works closely with Idaho companies, the state’s public institutions and K-12 schools to promote wood products, said the arena will act as a hands-on education facility.
“We have plans to use that space for inspiration and learning,” she said. “It’s such a great feel to know you can do these things with a product like wood.”
Article by Ralph Bartholdt, University Communications and Marketing
Published in September 2020