Congratulations 2019 Best Use of Wood Winners

Architecture Students Design the Palouse Ice Rink with Soaring Wood Beams 

Our annual project challenges students to demonstrate a creative solution and knowledgeable application of integrated design and an innovative use of wood.  This year focused on the Palouse Ice Rink Expansion in Moscow, Idaho. 

Congratulations to University of Idaho architecture students pictured above from left to right: Samantha Jesser (first place) of Kimberly, Idaho; Brendan Lempesis (third place) of Boise, Idaho; Kyle Madsen (second place) of Spokane, Washington for taking top honors in the IFPC “Best Use of Idaho Wood” design competition. 


1st place:  Samantha Jesser of Kimberly, Idaho – $500 and a plaque. Click here to review project.

2nd place: Kyle Madsen of Spokane, Washington – $250 and a plaque. Click here to review project.

3rd place: Brendan Lempesis of Boise, Idaho – $250 and a plaque. Click here to review project. 

The winning design is shown above by Samantha Jesser of Kimberly, Idaho.  Judges appreciated Jesser’s clear and straight forward structure; her innovative use of the diagrid for vertical and horizontal elements; her well-crafted model and the relationship between the cladding and structural timber, which judges felt provided layering and interest.

The Student Project

University of Idaho faculty involved with the “Best Use of Idaho Wood” design competition were Diane Armpriest, Emeritus Faculty, Carolina Manrique Hoyos, Assistant Professor and Andrew Carman, Adjunct Professor at the UI College of Art and Architecture.

This year’s challenge was to conceptualize the future needs and aspirations for the new Palouse Ice Arena and explore the best use of Idaho wood for the diverse project needs.  Students were asked to think critically and creatively in considering elements that might enhance the development of the spaces and site.  Requirements included  a model and 2 boards including design process, site plan, building floor area plans, wall section and details of wood components and 3D drawings.  Click here to learn more about the 2019 competition requirements.

To gain a more complete understanding of wood as a building resource, students toured the Idaho Forest Group sawmill in Lewiston, Idaho, to get a first look at the manufacturing process of turning trees into lumber.  Additionally, they heard from professional foresters about the trees of Idaho’s forest, forest and product certification and how forest management impacts wood products.

The Jury

Jury members for the competition included Scott Lawrence, Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Idaho; Chris Roberts, a seasoned project architect at Opsis Architecture in Portland, OR; Ryan E. Smith, Director of the School of Design and Construction and a professor of architecture at the Washington State University; and Trevor Stone, the Idaho Unite Resource Manager at PotlatchDeltic.  Read the bios of the Best Use of Wood jurors. 

From left to right: juror Chris Roberts of Opsis Architecture in Portland; UI Assistant Professor Carolina Manrique, UI Adjunct Professor Andrew Carman, Design Competition Winner Samantha Jesser of Kimberly, Idaho; Second Place Kyle Madsen of Spokane, Washington; Third Place Brendan Lempesis of Boise, Idaho; UI Assistant Professor Scott Lawrence; WSU Professor Ryan E. Smith; UI Emeritus Faculty Diane Armpriest; WSU Professor Ryan E. Smith; and Trevor Stone of PotlatchDeltic.

About the Best Use of Wood Competition

The purpose of the IFPC Best Use of Wood Competition within the University of Idaho architecture program is to encourage, recognize and support the creative and innovative use of Idaho wood in architectural design:

  • To provide hands-on opportunities for University of Idaho architecture students to learn about Idaho forests, sustainable forest management, wood products and manufacturing. 
  • To foster learning experiences about the structural, energy efficiency (life cycle analysis) and environmental benefits of wood. 
  • To recognize excellence in architectural design using Idaho wood to both professional Idaho architects and University of Idaho architecture students.


Learn more about wood, the ultimate green product. 

Read a news story from the Moscow Daily News about the competition, “Architecture Students Reimagined the Palouse Ice Rink with Soaring Wood Beams and Natural Light”

Read the awards luncheon agenda.