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Beloit College Powerhouse

Beloit College’s new student-union project has found a new use for a century-old coal-fired power plant along the Rock River.

Corporate Contractors oversaw construction crews as they turned the former Blackhawk Generating Station power plant into a new student union and athletic center.

The redevelopment project took deliberate steps to retain many of the features of the former power plant. It, for instance, kept the building’s 100-foot smokestack, several original equipment panels and various architectural elements of the power house, all as a tribute to Beloit’s industrial past. The project also strove to restore or replicate many of the building’s original windows, doors and masonry features. Various elements of the original coal-burning power plant still remain in the building and were reused for storage, lounge seating and decorative pieces.

An open-floor design for the interior of the building called for the addition of fitness areas, an elevated three-lane indoor track around the building’s perimeter, batting cages, an eight-lane pool and a 17,000-square-foot polycarbonate-enclosed fieldhouse with artificial turf.

The building also includes a cafe, offices, informal gathering spaces, a health and wellness center and an auditorium. Outside, crews installed a walkway along the Rock River, several decks with river views and a 180-foot pedestrian bridge that spans a highway, connecting the student union with Beloit College’s campus. The project also earned LEED certification for steps taken to save energy with the use of a geothermal heating and cooling system, reducing carbon emissions and reliance on reusable materials.

Green building materials were used throughout the student union, incorporating as many recycled products as possible. Polycarbonate fieldhouse panels provide thermal insulation while helping to heat the space during the cooler months and diffuse natural light.

Location: 850 Pleasant St., Beloit
Project size: 132,000 square feet
Project cost: $38 million
Start date: November 2017
Completion date: August 2020
Nominator: Corporate Contractors
General contractor: Corporate Contractors
Architect: Studio Gang
Engineer: RH Batterman & Co.
Owner: Beloit College
Subcontractors: ABC Supply, Advanced Fastening Supply, Axley, Ayre Excavating, Badgerland Disposal, Barricade Flasher Service, BPI, Brandsafeway Services, DACCO Inc. of Wisconsin, Dawes Rigging & Crane Rental, Duggan Painting, Hilti, HUB International Midwest, Lincoln Contractors Supply, Lycon, Neuman Pools, Pac-Van, Reliable Door and Dock, Rural Masonry, Sunbelt Rentals, United Rentals, Verona Safety Supply, Zander Solutions

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