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Beloit College, Studio Gang Architects release Powerhouse designs

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Beloit College, seeking to enhance student experience and the downtown Beloit riverfront, is partnering with Studio Gang Architects to reimagine a decommissioned coal-burning power plant as a sustainable, lively space for student interaction, health, and well-being. Nestled between the College’s campus and the Rock River, the Powerhouse, scheduled for completion in 2018, will include student engagement spaces such as a coffee shop, lounges and student club rooms, a conference center, and a lecture hall and theater. The building will also house a 3-lane track, an 8-lane competition pool with space for 250 spectators, a 10,000-sf fitness center, and a 17,000-sf recreational gym.

The design retains architectural features of the original industrial structure while incorporating new sustainable practices. The building’s substantial brick walls and tile wainscoting will be preserved by utilizing an “isothermal envelope.” This system reduces energy use by transferring energy from the adjacent river into a network of tubes under the exterior skin, transforming the building walls into a radiant surface that will maintain a constant temperature within the Powerhouse throughout the year. Coal bunkers and steel tubing will be kept in place, preserving elements of the historic Blackhawk Generating Station, with the suspended running track weaving together the different structures of the existing plant.

The Powerhouse will connect to academic and residential buildings by bridge, enhancing the campus’s engagement with the river and further catalyzing the redevelopment of Beloit’s riverfront.

“Our hope is that by reclaiming the Beloit waterfront for people, our project will inspire other communities around the globe to see human well-being as vitally interconnected with a healthy and clean environment,” stated Jeanne Gang.

“Studio Gang has delivered a design that is beautiful, inspiring, and distinctive; one that will produce a facility that serves and celebrates community and college, mind and body, past and future,” said Beloit College President Scott Bierman.

The power plant's owner, Alliant Energy, has been a strong supporter of Beloit College's plans and has entered into an agreement to transfer ownership to the college after fundraising for the Powerhouse is complete.


Founded by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, FAIA, in 1997, Studio Gang Architects is a collective of architects, designers, and thinkers whose work confronts pressing contemporary issues. Honored with the 2013 National Design Award, the Studio acts as a laboratory for testing ideas on varying scales: from cities to environments to material properties. Studio Gang’s work has been published and exhibited widely, most notably at the International Venice Biennale, MoMA, the National Building Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago.


Founded in 1846, Beloit College is Wisconsin’s oldest college. Hailed as one of 40 “Colleges That Change Lives,” Beloit offers students a rigorous liberal arts education that for nearly 50 years has been enlarged and put into practice by one of the country’s earliest internship and field work programs. The college, which has more than 50 major and 30 minor offerings, 100-plus clubs and organizations, and 19 NCAA DIII teams, draws students from 48 states and 40 countries to its campus along the Rock River in downtown Beloit, Wisconsin.

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