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Former coal-burning power plant becomes Beloit College’s new student union

Studio Gang designed the project.

February 16, 2021 |
Beloit College Powerhouse Aerial

Photos: Studio Gang

The Beloit College Powerhouse, the school’s new student union, combines a group of historic buildings that made up the Blackhawk Generating Station (originally built between 1908 and 1947) along with a new field house addition. The design retains architectural features and industrial equipment from the original structures while also incorporating new sustainable practices and gathering spaces.

New insulation regulates heat flow in the historic portions of the building while the polycarbonate facade of the new field house provides advanced thermal insulation and abundant natural light throughout the day. A radiant panel and slab system harnesses energy from the Rock River and uses it for most of the Powerhouse’s heating and cooling needs.


Beloit Powerhouse interior hall


A new pedestrian bridge and publicly-accessible elevator connect the Beloit College campus with the Powerhouse and the adjacent riverside paths and parks at ground level. Inside, a suspended three-lane track runs through all portions of the Powerhouse. The facility also includes a fitness center and recreational gym, an eight-lane competition pool, an indoor turf field house, a coffee shop, student lounges, club rooms, a conference center, and a 164-seat auditorium. Additional spaces for collaboration, conversation, and study are also located throughout the building.

The build team also included Angus Young Associates (associate architect, electrical engineer, plumbing engineer, fire protection engineer, structural engineer), R.H. Batterman & Co. (civil engineer), and Applied Ecological Services (landscape architect).


Beloit Powerhouse suspended running track


Beloit college cross section

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