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Quintessential Boise is Essential Reading

What gives Boise its individuality? – ” Quintessential Boise ” offers an architectural and anecdotal tour of what makes Boise, Boise

Idaho Statesman, The (Boise, ID) – Sunday, April 18, 2010

Author: BETHANN STEWART ; bstewart@ ; Bethann Stewart: 377-6393
© 2010 Idaho Statesman

Quintessential Boise

With renowned Boise architect Charles Hummel and Idaho Statesman columnist Tim Woodward as guides, ” Quintessential Boise : An Architectural Journey” takes readers on tours of neighborhoods to identify what makes the city unique.

It’s not a book just about architecture but the chemistry and history of Boise, overlapping the past and the present, the high tech and the low brow.

Hummel chose the places that define the city for him. Some of them would never be mentioned in a typical homage – for example, Edwards Boise Stadium 22 on Overland Road, in all its neon glory.

“You can’t ignore it,” Hummel said. “It’s considered throwaway architecture, but it has weight. It’s a great public space.”

Quintessential Boise ” also contains a visual treasure trove. Digital technology helps bring the historical black-and-white photos to life with new clarity. They share the pages with stunning color photos and photo cutouts in a pop-art style layout by Adele Thomsen.

The paintings of local places by Karen Woods and Bob Neal feature prominently in the mix.

How people use those places and how well those places fit the needs of people is the book’s central theme. A rating system of the fundamentals of place – identity, scale, utility, consistency and impact – helps readers better understand this relationship.

The theme is intended to arouse curiosity and entice readers to make their own decisions about whether a place means something to them or not, Hummel said.

The book is divided into the familiar Boise neighborhoods, plus some areas “beyond” Boise, such as Lucky Peak State Park and the Meridian Speedway.

“The book celebrates not only our history and examples of good architecture, but quirky little places and sights that few would expect to find in a book about architecture,” said Woodward, a Boise native. “That was largely Charles’ doing, and his choices made me see and appreciate Boise with new eyes.”

The book was the brainchild of Boise State University history professor Todd Shallat, director of Boise State’s Center for Idaho History and Politics. He wrote many of the chapters.

He envisioned the book unfolding as a conversation.

“Boise’s pretty cool, but you have to learn how to look at it to appreciate it for what it is,” Shallat said. “With appreciation comes understanding.”

Local writer and journalist Jeanne Huff also contributed.

This is the first publication of Boise State University’s College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs Idaho Metropolitan Research Series.

“First of all, I want people to enjoy it,” Hummel said.