SANDPOINT — The City Hall council chambers were a buzz of activity Thursday night as University of Idaho architecture seniors presented their designs for the school’s local extension.
A group of university professors and students traveled to Sandpoint to present several different concepts for the school’s site located along North Boyer Avenue.
Thirty-five architecture and landscape architecture divided into eight groups to draw several uses for the property into one cohesive concept. Each group then drafted several renderings to present to the public at the Thursday meeting. After reviewing all the conceptual renderings, visitors filled out a participation survey ranking their favorite aspects of each concept and specifying the most desirable inclusions for the property.
“As we go forward, there will be some refinements to the plaza, landscaping and that sort of thing,” landscape architect professor Gary Austin said.
The event drew dozens of residents eager to see what the university extension could mean to them. According to the plans proposed by students, the property could be used to meet several community needs, from education to residential use to recreation.
In terms of residences, many student concepts tied low-cost housing into a community plaza arrangements. This setup would allow for easy access to businesses like corner stores and other convenient locations, creating a community-within-a-community feeling. Housing is proposed to be affordably priced and available for both leasing and purchase.
That fits in nicely with another proposed use for the space — a recreational community center. The university extension could provide a home for the Sandpoint Community Center, an effort in the works since early 2010. Planned inclusions for this center are an indoor swimming pool, three basketball courts, workout machines, yoga rooms, a children’s room, an ice rink and three outdoor soccer fields. More information about the center is available at www.thesparc.org.
A satellite university campus is also included in the plans. According to some concepts, this small campus would be complete with administration buildings, a college of agriculture, a college of natural resources and access to the SPOT bus system.
Another major consideration in every team’s concept was agricultural space. The designs made plenty of room for facilities, greenhouses, gardens, orchards an other considerations. The outdoor theme continued with space for multi-use paths and access to Sand Creek.
The development of the University of Idaho extension is proposed to take place over a 20-year period, with improvements being added as funding becomes available. According to City Planner Jeremy Grimm, the students’ conceptual groundwork will likely transition into reality at some point.
“History tells us that at least some elements of these concepts will make their way into final plans,” he said.