From the time it was conceived, there was nothing simple about Jack's Urban Meeting Place. The $70 million project has been a series of design complications, regulatory obstacles and, now, mind-bending construction challenges.
"I've been in construction for 34 years and I've never seen anything like it," says John Beck, project superintendent for Hoffman Construction, the general contractor. "I've worked on projects that were over $300 million. Nothing like this. This is very unique. In fact, you won't find anyone out there that's ever done anything quite like this - that I know of."
The first, and most persistent, complication has been figuring out exactly what JUMP is.
Intended as a memorial to the late Simplot family patriarch and agricultural giant J.R. Simplot, who died in 2008, JUMP will include an event venue, a museum, an outdoor park, multi-story slides, five studios for arts and crafts classes, a 185,000-square-foot below-ground parking garage and a 60,000-square-foot above-ground parking garage. The six-story main building will offer 65,000 square feet of space.
Two years passed while the family and the city of Boise went back and forth about design details and the project's proposed appearance.
"What a long - and sometimes strange - trip it's been," family spokesman David Cuoio said Oct. 1, a few minutes after the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission gave the project final approval.
For the builders, the unprecedented collection of purposes and design history are nothing compared with the complexities of actually building JUMP.
Most buildings are built on a simple, parallel-and-perpendicular grid system. JUMP has five grid systems that govern the lines on which walls and other features are built. There's a radial grid for the circular area that's the project's most prominent portion. Other grids are slightly skewed in relation to each other, ensuring head-scratching for the people building JUMP.
"If they were all independent from each other, it would be pretty normal. But they all intersect and come together at some point," Beck says.
When construction reaches those grid intersection points, surveyors issue a set of global longitude and latitude coordinates - a language most builders don't know much about.
"You can't go out in the field and hand a carpenter coordinates," Beck says. "So we have full-time surveyors who change all that into dimensions off the grid."
Cuoio says the Simplots are "very pleased with the work" Hoffman, the project's subcontractors and its architects have done. He says workers have logged more than 100,000 hours so far without a single lost-time injury.
"I think it is certainly noteworthy that the project is not only unique in its nature, but also has such an outstanding safety record," Cuoio says.
Sven Berg: 377-6275