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Powerhouse wins World Architecture Festival prize

Construction of the Beloit College Powerhouse, a combined student union, recreation center, and athletics facility, is on track, and the facility is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019. The project repurposes the decommissioned Blackhawk Generating Station on the Rock River into a 120,000-square-foot student center in every sense of the phrase. The Powerhouse will be a first-of-its-kind facility in the country—one that interlaces student life spaces with recreational facilities, further connects campus with the community, and preserves history while looking to the future.

Even though the grand opening is a year away, the building is already making its impact known. The World Architecture Festival first gave the Powerhouse its Reuse Award for future projects, one of 10 projects in the world honored by the festival. The Powerhouse went on to win the overall prize among WAF’s 2018 Future Projects. The award recognizes future projects that identify key ecological and societal challenges that architects are actively seeking to address over the next 10 years.

“The Beloit College Powerhouse Project seeks to replace an old model of energy with a new model to support the health and wellbeing of its many inhabitants. The Powerhouse is designed to become a centre for human energy, activity, and health,” reported the World Architecture Festival news release.

The college vision for the building, established through a shared community process, sought, not only to build a unique college building, but also to build bridges over compartmentalization of the student experience. The $38 million project was generously funded by donations from alumni/ae and friends of the college and with significant public resources in the form of tax credits and grants from the state and federal government.