Tag Archives: national guard

What Makes the Armory Unique?

geothermal signOver time many people have expressed interest in Boise’s Armory. We’ve heard so many suggestions for possible uses of this site and structure that it’s tough to pick a favorite. Whether someone sees a multiple-use structure featuring retail, restaurant, commercial and residential, or a public asset like a YMCA, everyone agrees on three main aspects that make the Armory attractive:

Location. The site occupies a hub among multiple neighborhoods, and sits at the base of the Military Reserve Trail system, a gateway to an extensive trail system. This is attractive to food and beverage retailers interested in capturing local residents and recreationists, and those involved in business related to biking, hiking, running or pets.

Geothermal. This is probably the most unique aspect of the building and the one everyone sees as a huge selling point. The Armory is first in line for hot water from the City of Boise’s geothermal wells across the street. The current service to the building needs to be updated with newer insulated pipe technology, but provides enough volume to provide heat for something like the historic Natatorium on Warm Springs. Not only does the geothermal resource translate into a perpetual 30% savings on energy use for a tenant, it represent a green energy source and the ability to dramatically reduce the building’s carbon footprint. One interested party commented that ‘where else could you find this?’

Learn more at http://publicworks.cityofboise.org/services/geothermal

WPA plaque from 1937_1024History. The Armory is a Works Project Administration (WPA) project built as America was working our way out of the Great Depression. Add to that its legacy as the home of the Idaho National Guard, the potential to connect to Guard history, and the Art Deco design of Tourtelotte and Hummel Architects. Those familiar with architectural history and preservation find the building’s classic, efficient design a big selling point.

2015 Spring Work Begins on Armory

Lots of folks are curious about the status of the Armory. After months of inactivity, work began on a few general improvements about a month ago. I spoke with Mike with J&M earlier this year and he gave me a rundown on the goals of the current push:

  • Daylighting basement windows. The roughly 7,000 sq. ft. below-grade spaces facing Reserve Street will be getting slightly larger glazed openings.
  • Enlarging window wells. The old window wells were pretty small, so workers have excavated a large trench that will slope up toward ground level to create a berm that allows more light to reach the windows.
  • Retaining wall. The top of the berm will feature an 18″ retaining wall with deep footings. This will keep water and other unwanted things out of the window wells.
  • Drainage system. This will add to the protection of the below-grade space from potential flood events.
  • Seismic reinforcement. Due to the age of the structure, additional work will helped stabilize walls in the event of any seismic activity.

I got a tour from Gene, one of the workers on site. He mentioned how much everyone enjoys working in the space, surrounded by history and the amazing natural light. Here are a few photos showing the interior spaces and a few exterior details. Thanks to Mike and Gene for helping answer some questions; neighbors are understandably curious.

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2nd Floor NE space showing morning sunlight. This level, like the Main Floor and day-lit basement contains about 7,000 sq. ft.

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NE corner showing excavation for light well (against building) and retaining wall (trench at right adjacent to pavement). Forms are no in place and concrete should be poured in coming weeks.

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14,400 sq. ft. Drill Hall, roughly 80′ X 180′ of unobstructed space, showing the original bowstring trusses supporting the arched middle roof. The lower left wall shows openings into the rear section of the building, that originally housed the National Guard stables and horses.

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East wall looking toward the rear of the building. The front section contains approximately 21,000 sq. ft. on three levels, the middle section with 14,400 sq. ft., and the rear single-level section with approximately 5,000 sq. ft.

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Interior panorama of rear single-level space, originally housing the stables for the Idaho National Guard.

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Original bowstring trusses (above) and detail of the roof framing and structure, which includes repurposed dimensional-lumber concrete board forms used in the 1937 construction. The second floor wings were added in the 50s, when workers had access to plywood for forms. This is why the texture and original colors were different from early ours to later pours.

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Roof detail showing repurposed 1937 concrete board forms. This was the depression, so nothing was wasted.

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NE Corner showing board forms and concrete prep. Owner characterized finished retaining walls as “Eighteen inches above grade.”

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View SE from west corner of Armory showing footings for retaining wall.

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View west from NE corner showing forms for retaining wall.

Bozeman Armory Repurposed as Boutique Hotel

One of our committee members forwarded this link to Bozeman’s ETHA Hotel, which will make use of their former National Guard Armory building. A mix of new construction and restoration, this is an interesting re-use option.

Copyright: Eclipse Engineering

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Verizon plans 80′ tower, pre-fab building next to Armory

Scale mockup of tower position and size.

Scale mockup of approximate tower position and size as represented to Armory Committee members in June 2013.

At the EENA meeting on 5/5/14, Armory Subcommittee representatives learned that Verizon is still applying to the City of Boise to build what they originally described as a ‘stealth‘ tower, along with a 12ft by 26ft pre-fab Base Transmitter Station near the Historic Boise Armory on Reserve Street.

The public was previously invited to discuss details Thursday, June 13th from 6 to 7pm in the lot between the Fire Station and the Armory on Reserve Street in Boise. See the 2013 notice below (provided by Technology Associates via EENA) for more information. See also the armory development agreement governing use of the property.

IMGP1145 doug explains how things will be

Several neighbors and subcommittee members met with Doug Kofford, the TAEC / Consultant for Verizon last year. Diane Ronayne, Gary Richardson, Laura Shealy, Tony Tenne, Noel and Lucy Weber, and Erik Kingston turned out on 6/13 to learn about plans for the 80-foot tower, concrete bunker and the 50′ x 60′ concertina-wire and chain-link fenced enclosure to be located between the Armory and Fire Station #1 near Logan Avenue. We learned at the time that the top of the tower will have a three-sided array that is at least 12′ on a side and looks something like this:

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Despite the term ‘stealth’ originally used to describe structure, it will be significant in mass and height for the neighborhood; double the height of the Armory and approximately 15′ to 20′ above the trees along Logan Ave. We’re not sure if the lease payment from a tower would be offset by the potential negative impact on public (and potential tenant/patron) perception and property values. Towers like this can lead to the ‘industrialization’ of a property or neighborhood, driving away some valuable activity and traffic.

Neighbors were interested in the potential to integrate a public art component, but learned about the restrictions inherent in cell towers. Access to the tower for servicing, reducing the chance for birds or other wildlife to damage equipment or otherwise interfere with transmission or reception are all considerations.

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June 2013 notice of ‘not a public meeting.’

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Notice for ‘not a public meeting’ scheduled for 4/30/14.

 

Boise Armory: How to repurpose a 1930s structure

tm-facade-1207.JPGIn a previous post I included a link to the Helms Bakery District in Culver City, CA. Constructed in 1931, the building used concrete techniques similar to Boise’s Armory. The structure is much larger, was privately constructed for industrial use and carried architectural themes inspired by the Olympics and the ‘Zigzag Moderne’ style.  The developer and owner opted to clean and paint the concrete exterior, which in the case of the Helms Bakery structure helped accentuate architectural details and hide a few flaws.

Subcommittee member and local entrepreneur Dave Krick went out of his way last week to visit the Helms Bakery District and was given a tour of the site and businesses. According to a good friend who lives nearby, the renovation and repurposing has completely energized the surrounding neighborhoods and economy, stimulating additional investment.

Click on the photos below to see a few of the details of the Helms Bakery project (like solar panels on the roof and creating shade for parking), and imagine what we might highlight of the Boise Armory to bring modern relevance to Boise’s own historic structure. What would you emphasize? The National Guard presence, the project’s role in helping Boise transition to more prosperous times, or the fact that the building uses geothermal heat and connects multiple neighborhoods with the foothills?

What can we do to return this site and structure to a community asset? What businesses, nonprofits or community groups could use the location and space effectively? Stay tuned, and be ready with suggestions.