KIVA no more

The University of Idaho plans to raze the Kiva (foreground) as part of a project to renovate the Education Building, which stands behind it.

The College of Education Building on the University of Idaho campus is expected to undergo a nearly $20 million renovation by fall 2016. While the building will see many new additions and restorations during the construction phase, one thing will be noticeably missing - the Kiva Theater.

"The Kiva Theater is going away, certainly with conflicted feelings," said James Gregson, associate dean of the college. "We recognized the symbolism of the Kiva and really looked at ways that it could be made more structurally sound as well as more usable because it just wasn't meeting the needs."

Although the theater is attached to the Education Building they haven't had use of it for many years. The Department of Theatre Arts has been making use of the space but Gregson said it wasn't meeting their needs either.

"Essentially we had engineers and architects give it a really strong analysis, and it was unanimous that it should come down," Gregson said.

Demolition is expected to begin July 1.

Gregson said aside from the removal of the Kiva, the college will have the same footprint the building currently has, which saved an approximated $3 million dollars compared to starting from scratch.

"We got enough money from the state to rebuild that building so it would be an up-to-date replica of what already exists," Gregson said.

The state provided nearly $5 million to abate asbestos, which was a common material used for insulation when the building was first constructed in 1968.

The university bonded $9.5 million while the College of Education made a goal to raise an additional $6 million for improvements. The exterior of the existing five-story building is in need of an upgrade, as the stacked-rock-and-plaster panels appear to be falling off.

The college will also be receiving a technology upgrade, expanding lab and classroom spaces for the most up-to-date services.

Currently, the renovations qualify for silver LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certifications, meaning the building will have a high level of sustainability and will be energy efficient. Gregson said they are looking at low-flow water fixtures, water fountains to refill water bottles and expanding the use of natural light.

"We wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to make it a special building," Gregson said.

The Department of Theatre Arts will be temporarily relocated to the Industrial Technology Ed/Anthro Lab building, a former machine shop, across the street from Parking and Transportation Services.

"We are getting a new space to play in," said Kelly Quinnett, head of acting for the theater department. "The parking is better over there and as artists we are always looking at a space and projecting our own creative images onto it. I think it will be really great for us."

She said the space will be used primarily for new works - the department has a "flourishing, successful graduate program" in play writing and smaller ensemble plays which may work better in the intimate, small space, she said.

"We are happy to be getting anything," Quinnett said.

She said the dream of the department would be to eventually have a theater facility to call home outside of the existing Hartung Theatre, near the Kibbie Dome.

As of now, they are in the restoration phase of the new space which is in need of seating, lighting and a stage. Quinnett is hopeful the space will be equivalent in size to the 120-seat Kiva.

Gregson said there are no concrete plans for what will happen to the space the Kiva currently occupies. He said they are looking into the idea of a garden, which could be utilized by several faculty members working with K-12 students or an atrium that could be used year-round.

"We are really wanting to take advantage of that space, at least in part to align with the spirit of the Kiva - to promote a sense of community," Gregson said.

Sunny Browning can be reached at (208) 883-4639, or by email to

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