Beloit Powerhouse

Beloit Powerhouse by Studio Gang: Aerial Photograph by Tom Harris

Location
Beloit, WI

Status
Built, 2020

Client
Beloit College

Type
Educational

Size
120,000 sf

Sustainability
Targeting LEED Silver

Tags

Looking to enhance the student experience and help revitalize the local riverfront, Beloit College partnered with Studio Gang to reinvent a former coal-burning power plant as a student union centered on recreation and wellness.

Located along the Rock River, adjacent to the College’s campus and close to downtown Beloit, the Powerhouse project combines an assemblage of historic buildings that made up the Blackhawk Generating Station (constructed between 1908–1947) along with a new field house addition. The design retains architectural features and industrial equipment from the original structures while incorporating new sustainable practices and lively gathering spaces that encourage students to mix with each other and the larger Beloit community.

Beloit Powerhouse by Studio Gang, photograph of Turbine Hall by Tom Harris

A suspended, three-lane track runs through all portions of the building, which houses a fitness center and recreational gym, eight-lane competition swimming pool, and the indoor turf field house, as well as spaces for conversation, collaboration, and study. Additional amenities include a coffee shop, student lounges, club rooms, conference center, and a 164-seat auditorium.

Beloit College Powerhouse: Historical Photograph of Blackhawk Generating Station

Archival photo of the Blackhawk Generating Station.

Transforming the hundred-year-old structure presented significant challenges, especially to efficient energy use. New insulation regulates heat flow in the historic portions of the building, while the polycarbonate façade of the new field house provides advanced thermal insulation and abundant, diffuse natural light throughout the day. In addition, a radiant panel and slab system harnesses energy from the Rock River for most of the Powerhouse’s heating and cooling needs, improving comfort within the building and maintaining the highest air quality, while also minimizing total energy use.

A new pedestrian bridge and publicly-accessible elevator connect the Beloit College campus, which sits on a hill, with the Powerhouse and the adjacent riverside paths and parks at ground level. Forming these new links between town, gown, and river, the former power plant is now generating a more energetic and vibrant community life.

Architectural Record — "Beloit College Powerhouse by Studio Gang"

Consultant Team

Angus Young Associates, associate architect, electrical engineer, plumbing engineer, fire protection engineer, structural engineer, LEED consultant, commissioning consultant

R.H. Batterman & Co., civil engineer

dbHMS, lighting and mechanical/environmental engineer

Applied Ecological Services, landscape architect

Threshold, acoustics and A/V consultant

3st/Span, signage, wayfinding consultant

Ramaker & Associates, pool consultant

Hastings+Chivetta Architects, athletic & recreation design consultant

True North Consulting Group, IT consultant

Dharam, cost consultant

Awards

Citation of Merit, AIA Chicago Design Excellence Awards, Distinguished Building, 2021

Winner, The Plan Awards, Renovation, 2021

Winner, Fast Company Innovation by Design Award, Spaces and Places Category, 2021

Energy Efficiency Excellence award from Focus on Energy Wisconsin, 2021

Longlist, Architectural Film of the Year (with Spirit of Space), Dezeen, 2021

Finalist, Best Refurbished Building Category, MIPIM Awards, 2021

Jury Award Winner, Gyms & Recreation Centers Category, Architizer A+ Awards, 2021

Popular Choice Winner, Gyms & Recreation Centers Category, Architizer A+ Awards, 2021

Top 10 US architecture projects, Dezeen, 2020

Honorable Mention, The Architect's Newspaper, Best of Design Awards, Institutional - Higher Ed Category, 2020

Winner, Archello, Best Projects of 2020

Finalist, Institutional - Unbuilt Category, Architizer A+ Awards, 2019

Winner, WAFX, Overall and Reuse category, World Architecture Festival, 2018

Finalist, Health - future projects category, World Architecture Festival, 2018

Special Mention, Unbuilt Sports and Recreation category, Architizer A+ Awards, 2018

Related

Now

Fast Company — "Why this coal power plant is the future of green building"

Beloit Powerhouse is the winner of Fast Company's 2021 Innovation by Design Awards in the Spaces and Places category for "cleverly reusing architecture that’s already there."

Now

Fast Company — "Jeanne Gang is creating a better future by building on the past"

Fast Company — "Jeanne Gang is creating a better future by building on the past"

"Gang’s philosophy leans heavily on community input, ecological awareness, and knowing when to reuse existing structures and materials instead of building anew," writes Nate Berg in the October cover story, the first featuring an architect in more than a decade.

Now

l'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui — "Campus électrique"

The Beloit Powerhouse is featured in issue no. 443, dedicated to the USA. "Jeanne Gang est...une créatrice de bâtiments communautaires avec une vision engagée des enjeux patrimoniaux. En témoigne le centre sportif qu’elle a livré en 2020 sur le campus du Beloit College (Wisconsin), au sein d’une ancienne centrale électrique."

Now

Azure — "In Wisconsin, Studio Gang Revives a Coal Plant into a Recreational Hub"

Azure — "In Wisconsin, Studio Gang Revives a Coal Plant into a Recreational Hub"

"While the imposing vestiges of industry still line the banks of the Rock River, a wave of adaptive reuse has gradually ushered in a new economy of offices and recreational hubs. It’s an evolution emphatically and elegantly encapsulated in the revitalization of a decommissioned, century-old power plant into a showpiece multi-purpose complex at Beloit College."

Now

Architectural Record — "Beloit College Powerhouse by Studio Gang"

Beloit Powerhouse by Studio Gang: Aerial Photograph by Tom Harris

Jim Gauer reviews the recently completed Beloit College Powerhouse in Architectural Record's November issue.

Now

Chronicles of Higher Education — "It Burned Coal for Decades. Now It Will Let Beloit Students Blow Off Steam."

Axon Diagram of Studio Gang's Design for Beloit College Powerhouse

"Beloit needed a modern campus center and a new field house, and its residence halls and science complex are just up the hill from the power plant. Alliant officials liked the idea, and the college hired Jeanne Gang’s architecture firm, Studio Gang, to plan the conversion."

Now

Beloit College Powerhouse Wins Overall WAFx Prize at World Architecture Festival

Beloit College Powerhouse Exterior View, Architecture by Studio Gang

Beloit College Powerhouse has been awarded the WAFX Prize from the World Architecture Festival. “We have been amazed by the standard of entries across this year’s future project categories and the prize winners in addressing some of humanities greatest concerns. Studio Gang’s masterful Beloit College Powerhouse Project triumphed over a very strong field," commented Programme Director Paul Finch.