BELOIT — Beloit College’s new $38 million Powerhouse facility is complete and ready for students, staff and the community to admire.
Located at the site of the decommissioned Blackhawk Generating Station, the facility takes Beloit College across Pleasant Street to the banks of the Rock River. An overhead pedestrian bridge will carry students from the main campus to the new facility.
Beloit College will showcase the Powerhouse to the community on Feb. 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is inviting everyone to attend. The free event will feature guided tours, short films in the new Weissberg auditorium, refreshments and more.
“This is an open house in the truest sense of the word. We want to open the doors to the community to show off what we think is the best student and community center in the country,” Powerhouse Project Manager Dan Schooff said.
The goal was for the Powerhouse to connect student life spaces with recreational facilities. The five-story facility is home to meeting rooms, nooks and “hang out” space, an indoor track, pool, cafe, field house, conference center, outdoor decks and health and wellness center. Workers installed a pedestrian bridge over Highway 51/Pleasant Street connecting the campus to the Powerhouse in June.
Discussions about the project had begun back in 2009 when Alliant Energy discussed closing the Blackhawk Generating station and the college was looking for a place for its fitness facility. Beloit College kicked off its formal capital campaign in 2014 for the unique project with a three-year window to raise the $38 million.
In April of 2017, Beloit College announced it had reached its fundraising goal and Alliant Energy began removing its existing equipment to prepare for construction. Phase 2 of construction began when Beloit College and Corporate Contractors Inc. began transforming it into the Powerhouse.
Corporate Contractors, Inc. (CCI) commenced with the bulk of construction on the project in February of 2018 when it started transforming the 105,000-square-foot historic portion of the project. Last week workers were putting the finishing touches on the Powerhouse. As part of a series of soft openings in the past weeks, Beloit College held swim, softball and baseball practices and faculty meetings in the new space.
“Students returned to campus on Jan. 19 and have been anxiously awaiting the doors to be open. A soft opening is being planned for sometime this week,” Schooff said.
Work is still underway on the 17,000-square-foot artificial turf field house.
“The shell is up, and it should be done in early May,” Schooff said.
The facility incorporates features from the Powerhouse’s history such as coal hoppers and funnels, a 100-foot tall smokestack to peer into, old intake pipes and retro gauges. Schooff commended management and workers with Alliant Energy and CCI for carefully removing original equipment and giving special attention to preserving the historic features within the building.
Not only does the Powerhouse’s features give a nod to the past, but it also has the latest technology with geothermal energy powering its heating and cooling system by use of river water.
Schooff said the facility is expected to be a point of pride for the campus for years to come.
“Beloit College has had such a high quality experience in the classroom and the college, and students deserve a high quality student union and recreation center to go along with that. It will help in marketing the college to prospective students across the country,” Schooff said.