The Blackhawk Generating Station, known as “The Powerhouse” is a decommissioned coal-fired electrical plant adjacent to the Rock River. Recently, Beloit College acquired the 100 year old property with plans to develop it into the center of campus life. dbHMS is working with Studio Gang Architects in the design of a student activity and recreation center. The vision for the Powerhouse is a signature facility that will boast the college’s reputation through creative and innovative design features in a historically industrial space.
The project will include an array of innovative systems for space conditioning including the active use of the building’s masonry walls as a radiant mass. The large mass acts a thermal “flywheel” and enables low temperature radiant heating and cooling. The large radiant surface area and low temperature permits the direct use of Rock River water for cooling; this means the Powerhouse gets almost free space conditioning throughout much of the year. This passive system will be augmented by high efficiency boilers and heat pumps for a dynamic energy-saving combination.
While retaining the architectural features of the original structure, the new program will include a student union, gathering spaces, coffee shops, flexible meeting spaces, lecture halls, and a theater. Additionally, the facility will house a fitness center with an indoor track, health and wellness center, and an 8-lane competition pool with space for 250 spectators. This state-of-the-art facility is anticipated to be complete in 2020.