In January of 1987, a fire destroyed the Eastman Building that had stood proud for 82 years at the corner of 8th and Main. Fourteen years later, a failed construction project left a huge pit covered in steel on the site as a previous contractor’s plans to construct a 22-story tower fell through during the early days of construction. The Zion’s Bank building is known as the building that filled the infamous hole (see http://boisearchitecture.org/structuredetail.php?id=114 for more information). After sitting vacant since 1987, construction began in mid-2012, officially opening in February of 2014 with the help of the Goo Goo Dolls and rather large crowd of enthusiastic Boise-ans.
The exterior of the building fits several stylistic catergories, most obviously art-deco and contemporary with a hint of postmodern. The bottom five floors mirror the older styles of the surrounding buildings, blending in before shooting up to fill out its 327 feet with glass, stone, and steel. This mixing of materials is art deco and contemporary. The vertical lines that make up ¾ of the building’s upper façade draw the eye upward, vaguely reminiscent of the Louis Sullivan architecture that occurs in several other buildings throughout the city. As the vertical aspects pull the gaze to the top of the building, there appears to be an entirely new building plopped on top of the glass and stone that dominate the rest of the structure and mirrors the style of the base.
The chunk of skyscraper that faces the corner of 8th and Main, however, is very different from the rest of the building. Made entirely of glass, the length is only broken by several steel awnings that cut it into horizontal chunks. The stylistic logic behind this is clearly to draw attention to the building as that is the portion facing the most heavily trafficked regions in relation to the building. The skyscraper is topped off with a magnificent 45 foot spire, making it three feet taller than the previous king behemoth of Boise, or the US Bank Building across the street.
The aforementioned spire was quite the point of contention for many concerned citizens. The owners of the building, the Gardner Co, found themselves at the receiving end of multiple complaints in regards to the seemingly Mormon aura of the spire, along with a few suggestions for the addition of a gold plated statue of Moroni to be added to complete the structure. Although the Gardner family is Mormon, they denied such accusations. A very similar design to the one in Boise has appeared in multiple other cities, and the financial ties with the Mormon Church were severed years ago. The architects claim that the spire, along with the rest of the design, were made to emphasize the corner of 8th and Main.
The interior of the skyscraper continues the art deco and contemporary styles, as glass is combined with steel and wood mixed with metal sheeting. The mixture of texture and splashes of color create a modern feel, while the glorious nature signature to Idaho is pulled into lobbies and entrances with the quality of wood and presence of potted plants. Most notably is the presence of three information bulletins at the top of the escalator on the second floor detailing the history of the site and its significance. The inclusion of the past happenings is an interesting decision, for it states the myth of Billy Fong’s curse while also discussing the rich history of hotels and fires and failed contracts.
Although most commonly referred to as the Zions Bank building, there are several other clients there as well. The approximately $76 million structure is home to the new Idaho headquarters of Zions Bank, along with several other businesses, including a law office, multiple restaurants, a gym, an architectural firm, and other professional services.To name a few, on the first couple floors are Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Flatbread as renters, along with the Holland and Hart legal firm and the Gardner Company on the way up. As of November of 2013, there were a total of fifteen tenants in the 18 story, 400,000 square foot building.
The structure took about fourteen months to complete, and the process is documented in photographs by Darin Oswald on the Idaho Statesman website.