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Modern Masters - Kenneth Brooks and Intermountain Gas Company

Idaho Modern’s 4th annual Modern Masters highlighted the work of Kenneth Brooks. It took place on a stormy evening in the Hospitality Center at the Intermountain Gas Company Headquarters. There were limited tickets available for a tour of the complex prior to the lecture. IMG operations manager, Byron Defenbach was a superb tour guide highlighting company history and pointing out efforts the company has taken to preserve the integrity of the building. The complex was built in 1965 by Kenneth Brooks, an architect from Spokane, Washington. The glazed brick buildings in tones of blue, green, and purple are the only buildings in Idaho to have received an American Institute of Architects National Merit Award.

With windows looking out the the foothills guests marveled at the wonderfully preserved wood interior of the conference center as they took their seats to hear CK Anderson speak on the life and work of Mr. Brooks. Attendees learned that Brooks was a meticulous designer, wonderful family man and complete modernist. Simplicity and elegant forms ran through all of Brooks’s work from Dry Falls Interpretive center in remote eastern Washington to sleek corporate headquarters surrounded by serene landscapes of the Washington Water Power Central Service Facility. We learned that Brooks loved using a particular pencils from Japan and developed close relationships with his contractors. He took every opportunity that he could to meet and work with great modernist architects who found their way to Spokane including Marcel Breuer and Richard Neutra.

Winning the award for longest distance traveled to attend the event were Bill Brooks and his wife Christine. The son of our Modern Master remembered as a child asking his mother if he could go with his parents to Boise when the Intermountain Gas Complex was being dedicated. His mother replied “No Bill, you can’t come this time. You will go see the building some time without me.” Now 50 years later he has finally gotten to experience his father’s work in Boise.

CK Anderson was an entertaining speaker and the Mod Squad had the opportunity to have some wonderful conversations with him about modern architecture in the northern region of our state. Idaho Modern is truly grateful for the generosity of Intermountain Gas for making their facility available to us and to the City of Boise Arts and History Department for giving Preservation Idaho a grant that helped fund the event. Other sponsors included The Modern Hotel and AIA Idaho. 

If you are reading this and are remiss that you did not attend, keep on the look out for Preservation Idaho e-mails and notices, there is a very good chance that there will be other opportunities to visit the Intermountain Gas complex in the near future!

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