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Under the Dome

Remodel breathes new life into iconic Moscow structure

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The 33-year-old William H. Kibbie-ASUI Activity Center in Moscow, Idaho (aka the Kibbie Dome) is undergoing a $12-million renovation that will make the northern Idaho icon safer, more functional and pleasing to the eye, inside and out.

Photo courtesy of the University of Idaho
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Located on the campus of the University of Idaho at the edge of the Palouse in northern Idaho, and the home of the Vandals of the Western Athletic Conference, the facility is used primarily for football, basketball, tennis and indoor track and field.

Portland, Ore., contracting, engineering and architecture firms have led this first phase of the project. The general contractor is Walsh Construction Co., the architecture firm is OPSIS Architecture and DCI Engineering provided structural engineering.

Workers from Walsh Construction have been renovating the Kibbie Dome since November 2008, with prior planning and design feasibility testing as far back as spring 2007.

Ray Pankopf, U of I director for architectural and engineering services, says the building is used mainly by the university and also by the community for local and regional events.

On the Shelf

Phase two, scheduled for construction as soon as the university has the money, involves replacing dangerous combustibles in the east wall and adding Kalwall there as well. “Phase two is sitting on the shelf, ready to go,” Pankopf says. When the university will get the funding to finish phase two is unclear as of yet, thanks to the unsteady economy, but he estimates this year or next.

Alec Holser, principal-in-charge for OPSIS Architecture, says designers had to figure out a way to replace the combustible wood structure as well as make physical and aesthetic improvements to the Dome.

“Because of the lack of natural light in the facility, it was really hard to feel the shape of the Dome when you were inside,” Holser says.

Bob Krippaehne, senior lead project manager for Walsh, says the university wanted local people involved in the project. “We were fortunate that the Palouse area has some qualified subcontractors,” he adds. “I think we subcontracted half the contract value to local subs.”

Fire-Safety Upgrades

The structure was named the American Society of Civil Engineers Outstanding Structure of the Year in 1976 when it opened. Its barrel-arched roof is made primarily of laminated wood on a framework of tubular steel. The huge arches span 400 ft across the center and are 150 ft above the surface of the playing field.

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