The revised plans to transform a decommissioned, riverfront power plant into a new recreation center and student union reflected feedback gathered by Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects after they shared initial plans on campus in May.
One significant change has to do with what’s being called the “big open space,” a turf field house the size of the existing Marvin Field House. Earlier plans placed it atop the Powerhouse, but now this part of the building, with its translucent yet tough exterior surface (strong enough for lacrosse practice inside) has moved to the north side of the structure on the ground. An outdoor recreation path, now funded by a Wisconsin Department of Transportation grant, hugs the river side of the Powerhouse, where it connects to an existing city path.
Most of the original plans remain intact, including an exterior skin for the building that is expected to be a first of its kind in the United States: It will use geothermal energy from the river to create a radiant surface that maintains constant temperatures year round.
At the November event, the Powerhouse was recognized for its many environmental innovations but also for the way that it integrates student union and athletic spaces. Among the building’s features are open social areas, a conference center, lecture hall, green roof, theatre, competition-sized pool, fitness center, recreational turf gym, and an indoor track that weaves through the building.
The Powerhouse will connect to campus via a footbridge over U.S. Highway 51 at Aldrich Field, just north of the Sports Center.
With design revisions unveiled, college leaders are shifting their attention to fundraising. The agreement with current owner Alliant Energy/WPL gives the college three years to raise the $38 million necessary to complete the project. The goal is to have remediation and construction completed for the start of the 2018-19 academic year.