150 Boise Icons: Boise Plaza

awebb@idahostatesman.comMarch 2, 2013 

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Did you know? The large lobby extends the full height of the building with suspended walkways radiating from central elevator shafts to office space around the exterior of the building.


The building, home to Boise Cascade for more than 40 years, has another claim to fame. It was designed by the San Francisco office of the celebrated firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. That's the firm responsible for Sears Tower (1973), which stood as the tallest building in the world for more than 20 years.

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill is notable for its early adoption of the sleek International Style (sometimes called the "glass box") that took off in the U.S. in the 1950s.

Think of the Lever House on Park Avenue in New York City, one of the first buildings to begin transforming the look of the avenue from heavy masonry to the clean-line skyscrapers of the "Mad Men" era.

Those same clean lines are visible at Boise Plaza, built in 1971 at 1111 Jefferson St. to serve as Boise Cascade headquarters.

Rafanelli and Nahas bought Boise Plaza in 2006. Boise Cascade and Boise Inc. still lease more than 60 percent of its space.

A few years ago, Rafanelli and Nahas led a nationwide search to find an artist to make a piece for the building's lobby. It chose Philadelphia artist Ray King, who installed "AquA" in 2010. Consisting of more than 2,000 glass cubes that change color as the light shifts, the piece is the largest privately funded public art in the city.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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