Boise & Garden City

Redo of Boise City Hall plaza to start Monday

Boise’s Arts and History Commission, which includes a student member, helped choose the artwork depicted in this rendering that will adorn the plaza in front of City Hall.
Boise’s Arts and History Commission, which includes a student member, helped choose the artwork depicted in this rendering that will adorn the plaza in front of City Hall.

Boise city leaders hope the months-long renovation of the plaza in front of City Hall will turn it into an inviting park-like space worthy of the traditional civic role of city halls as gathering places for residents.

When the project is complete — expected late this summer or early fall — it will have a “civic lawn,” seating steps, public art features and an interactive water feature.

Construction is scheduled to start Monday. The project’s genesis dates back almost five years, when the city determined it needed to replace a membrane underneath the plaza that was supposed to keep water from leaking into City Hall’s underground parking garage. Over the past several years, the city also has shored up the structure of the main building to keep it from taking too much damage in the event of an earthquake.

The project’s expected total cost is $3.8 million. The city will cover $2.6 million from its general fund, and Capital City Development Corp., Boise’s urban renewal agency, will pay the remaining $1.2 million, according to a city news release.

Picking public art was one of the most difficult components of the project. From August 2011 to May 2013, a panel tasked with selecting a project and artist worked through dozens of concepts without finding one that was just right. Then, in the fall of 2013, the city altered its approach, putting more emphasis on concepts that are “appropriate and desirable for City Hall Plaza.”

That led to the selection of a proposal by local art, architecture and engineering organizations CTY Studios and Ecosystem Sciences. The proposal calls for a group of steel panels with the shapes of leaves and branches cut in them to mimic a grove of cottonwood trees.

The plaza overhaul also will include renovation of the sidewalks along the north and south sides of City Hall. City Hall plaza is expected to be closed between Monday and late August.

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