Beloit College: Powerhouse celebrates one year since grand opening

BELOIT, WIS. (Feb 19, 2021) – Beloit College, a Wisconsin-based liberal arts college recognized for its innovative curriculum, is celebrating one year since the grand opening of its internationally recognized and award-winning Powerhouse.

Ten years ago, Beloit College President Scott Bierman had an idea to transform the decommissioned Blackhawk Generating Station on the Rock River into a new student center connecting the College with the broader community. The result was the Powerhouse, a 120,000-square-foot student union, recreation center, and 17,000-square-foot indoor turf fieldhouse, O’Neill Fieldhouse, designed by world-renowned architectural firm Studio Gang. 

Students, faculty, staff, and community members got their first glimpse of the project in February 2020, when it officially opened to the public. By then, the Powerhouse had already received numerous awards for its cutting-edge design and sustainability. However, weeks later, the College shut down its campus as a result of the pandemic.

“From the onset, we knew this project was going to be enormously valuable to the college and the city of Beloit,” said Bierman. “But we had no idea how much of an asset this facility would be to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students during a worldwide pandemic.”

As the College prepared to reopen last fall, the Powerhouse became essential to giving students space to spread out on campus. Its spacious size, tall ceilings, a wide range of meeting rooms, conference rooms, and casual areas allowed students to maintain a sense of normalcy while also practicing social distancing.  

Most notably, the Powerhouse features a modern HVAC system that brings in fresh air instead of recirculating it, which has proven to be essential to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. One of the main event spaces, The Stack, was also transformed into the College’s COVID testing center.

With the start of spring classes on Monday, Feb. 15, the Powerhouse will continue to be central in the College’s ability to offer a positive student experience in the time of COVID.

“With thousands of people present at the Powerhouse’s grand opening last February, we look forward to a time when it’s safe for the entire community to use this amazing facility to its full capacity,” said Dan Schooff, the chief of staff and secretary at Beloit College who was project manager for the Powerhouse. “It took nearly a decade for this project to be completed, from conception to construction, and we’re thankful to all who helped make it possible.”  

The $38 million collaborative project by Beloit College has secured alumni and local donors’ money, including a gift from Alliant Energy. The Powerhouse is fully funded through tax credits and private donations, meaning tuition dollars have gone into the construction, and the project created no new debt.

The Powerhouse anniversary comes on the heels of another important milestone in Beloit College history: its 175th anniversary. The College will commemorate the 175th anniversary with numerous events and initiatives throughout 2021, allowing students, faculty, staff, and alumni to celebrate.

For more information on the Powerhouse or Beloit College, please visit  

About Beloit College

Beloit College is a private liberal arts college in Beloit, Wisconsin, recognized for its longstanding commitment to curricular innovation, as well as hands-on, active-learning and international education programs. The Beloit College community is diverse and noted for its passionate engagement with ideas and the world; its students are from nearly every state as well as 44 nations. Beloit College offers more than 50 majors, 30 minors, a number of dual-degree and pre-professional programs, 100 study abroad programs, and several domestic study programs. For more information,