Where business news starts in Boise

Where business news starts in Boise.

MK Plaza > Washington Group Plaza > A new name again for well-known Boise campus (plus, a history)

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St. Luke’s Health System informed employees this week that it will formally change the name of Washington Group Plaza. The new name will change to reflect its owner: St. Luke’s Plaza.

The large corporate campus came to life for Boise-based construction firm Morrison-Knudsen Corp. in 1970. MK eventually merged into Washington Group, which moved its headquarters to Boise. Several years after the corporate name change, the campus caught up – adding the Washington Group Plaza moniker. That name stayed on signage through several more corporate changes – as Washington Group merged into URS, and as URS became AECOM.

St. Luke's Plaza
The Washington Group Plaza will become St. Luke’s Plaza on August 1, 2019. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

That last firm – AECOM – finally pulled up stakes in Boise. St. Luke’s Health System stepped in in 2015 to lease space on the campus, before purchasing it in 2018.

Though the name will change, it will not have large signage. In the note to employs, St. Luke’s said it wants to keep confusion with the nearby St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center facility to a minimum.

[Legacy of big Boise firm of the past helps Girl Scouts build a bridge to the future]

“The monument sign at the entrance on Park Boulevard will be removed in the next few months to improve traffic flow and safety, and a St. Luke’s Plaza sign will be installed in front of the fountain. Signage will be minimal in order to reduce the possibility of confusion with St. Luke’s clinical facilities.”

The campus contains more than 620,000 square feet of space across four buildings – and will house 1,500 employees at buildout in the next five to seven years. Most of the positions are back-office – including human resources, telehealth, real estate, and an employee health clinic.

Campus history in Boise

The July, 1970 edition of the eM-Kayan newsletter heralded the arrival of the new campus.

“After more than 58 years of building things throughout the world for others, Morrison-Knudsen Company has now built something for itself: a new headquarters office building at Boise.”

The main building on the corner of Broadway and Park Blvd. is dedicated to “Harry W. Morrison, co-founder in the year of 1920 and honorary chairman of Morrison-Knudsen Company, and to the many thousands of loyal men and women of the M-K organization who, by their skills and by their toil, have changed the very face of the earth.”

The project sprung up in just 15 months, according to the eM-Kayan. The internal company newsletter is as technical as you might expect in describing the project:

“The building measures 180×131 feet and is 134 feet high. Basically a reinforced concrete structure (10,100 c.y. of concrete), it is faced with gray-beige brick, has large expanses of ‘solar bronze’ glass, and is surrounded by a 40-foot-wide plaza.”

The headquarters heralded a boom in big companies that called Boise home base. Albertsons built a campus on ParkCenter Blvd. it still occupies. Next door, Ore-Ida built its own campus. Boise Cascade constructed a large building in Downtown Boise. JR Simplot built One Capital Center. And, eventually, Micron Technology put down roots on I-84.

Morrison-Knudsen Plaza
Crowds gather for the opening of the Morrison-Knudsen Plaza in 1970. Photo via the eM-Kayan, courtesy Boise State University Special Collections.
Morrison-Knudsen Plaza
All lit up. Photo via the eM-Kayan, courtesy Boise State University Special Collections.
The lobby of the building in 1970. Photo via the eM-Kayan, courtesy Boise State University Special Collections.
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