JUMP ahead: Downtown Boise Simplot family project takes shape


JUMP ahead: Downtown Boise Simplot family project takes shape
The structure should be finished by fall 2015
By Sven Berg | Idaho Statesman | 

JUMP doesn't have a simple definition.

It has event space, but it's not a convention center. People will teach classes and hold activities in studios, but JUMP isn't a school. It's not a museum, either, though it will feature 52 historic tractors that Idaho agriculture giant J.R. Simplot bought in the late 1990s.

In 2012, Simplot's family spokesman said JUMP would be "unlike anything that exists." That's been true of almost every phase in its existence, from planning to construction.

The Simplots and the city of Boise's planning and design experts worked for years to hone the structure, colors and materials for JUMP - short for Jack's Urban Meeting Place. Some of the city's people worried JUMP would look too much like a theme park and wouldn't fit its urban surroundings. Finally, in 2012, the family's contractors broke ground.

Designed by the Los Angeles firm Adamson Associates, JUMP might be the most complicated construction project in Boise history. The building has five grids, each skewed in relation to the others. Crisscrossing spiral ramps run between third- and fourth-floor parking decks and a below-ground garage that will have as many as 640 parking spaces for the Simplot World Headquarters, which the company plans to build between now and 2016 on the southeast corner of 11th and Front streets.

The $70 million JUMP puzzle has given builders for lead contractor Hoffman Construction Company plenty of challenges. The complexity also has delayed the completion date. Originally, the family hoped to open the doors in the summer of 2014. Completion is now scheduled for fall 2015.

The family wants the project to be a tribute to J.R. Simplot's spirit of fun, risk-taking and thinking outside the box. The building achieves some of that goal on appearance alone. Instead of a monolithic tower, it's a collection of boxes and circles that, when the project' is finished, will have a collection of bold colors to contrast the beige blocks that dominate Downtown architecture. And a slide that's not just for kids will spiral from the fifth floor to the ground level, which will feature parklike landscaping, part of Boise's historic Pioneer Pathway and J.R.'s tractor collection.

JUMP will be open to the public. For the most part, the building will be open during business hours, spokeswoman Kathy O'Neill said. After hours, security staff will let people pass through the ground floor on their way into or away from Downtown.

The family hasn't decided how much it will charge for the use of the studios and other spaces inside JUMP, but O'Neill said the fees will be assessed on a sliding scale. Nonprofits will pay less, private groups more.

When the Play Zone is open, O'Neill said, there will be no charge to play or ride the slide. Groups that reserve the Play Zone may charge their own fees, though.

Sven Berg: 377-6275

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