Targeting LEED Gold
Looking to enhance the student experience and remediate the nearby riverfront, Beloit College partnered with Studio Gang to reimagine a former 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 is envisioned as a vibrant, multi-use space for the Beloit student community, featuring a 10,000-sf fitness center and 17,000-sf recreational gym, including a 3-lane track and an 8-lane competition pool with space for 250 spectators, as well as spaces for conversation, collaboration, and study. Additional amenities include a coffee shop, student lounges, and club rooms, as well as a conference center, lecture hall, and theater.
Reimagining a hundred-year-old structure and former coal-burning plant as a sustainable, lively space for student interaction, health, and well-being presents significant challenges, especially to efficient energy use. Heating and cooling the spaces of the Powerhouse, for example, requires addressing heat flow through the building skin—inward in the summer and outward in the winter—as well as the removal of heat generated by people, lights, and equipment.
Buildings usually use air for heating and cooling; however, water, which is much denser, is actually more efficient. Radiant panels integrated into the building’s surfaces are able to use energy from the river water for most of the Powerhouse’s heating and cooling needs, improving comfort within the building and maintaining the highest quality of air, yet also significantly minimizing total energy use. Additionally, by cladding the exterior in a protective skin, retaining the historic masonry on the interior, the natural ability of the bricks to regulate heat flow is enhanced, resulting in a high-performance facade.
“Beloit College has unveiled designs for converting a century-old power plant on the Rock River into a recreation center with sustainable features by celebrated architectural firm Studio Gang. The design is meant to retain the industrial character of the decommissioned coal-fired electrical plant while showcasing reduced energy features — and human energy.”