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 during an open house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

“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 a health and wellness center. Workers in June installed a pedestrian bridge over Pleasant Street to connect the campus to the Powerhouse.

Discussions about the project started 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 a capital campaign for the project in 2014 with the goal of raising $38 million in three years.

In April 2017, Beloit College announced it had reached its goal, and Alliant Energy began removing its equipment to prepare for remodeling.

Corporate Contractors Inc. in February 2018 began construction to transform the 105,000-square-foot building. 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 Corporate Contractors for carefully removing equipment and giving special attention to preserving historic features.

While giving a nod to the past, the Powerhouse incorporates the latest technology. A geothermal energy system uses river water to power the heating and cooling system, for example.

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,” he said.

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