Studio Gang Architects just unveiled plans to transform a decommissioned coal-burning power plant in Wisconsin into a clean green school. Beloit College commissioned Studio Gang to develop the site between its existing campus and the riverfront, and the project will “…transform an outmoded source of electricity into a wellspring of human energy”, as described by studio founder Jeanne Gang. The design will retain the structure’s original tile and brickwork while adding an isothermal envelope to provide heating—channeling kinetic energy from the nearby river through pipes within the walls to keep the building at a constant, comfortable temperature year-round.
This metamorphosis can undoubtedly inspire other architects and communities to follow suit with regard to re-humanizing zones that had previously been dedicated solely to industry. As Jeanne Gang put forth: “Our hope is that by reclaiming the Beloit waterfront for people, our project will inspire other communities around the globe to see human well-being as vitally interconnected with a healthy and clean environment.” Just as London’s Tate Modern gallery is housed within an old power plant on the Thames river, decommissioned power plants across the globe are slowly shifting focus and becoming centres for community involvement and enjoyment.
In addition to standard features such as lecture halls, conference spaces, theatre and visual art studios, and ever-vital cafes, the new facility will boast recreational facilities including an eight-lane swimming pool, a fitness centre, and a 1,500-square-metre gym. The suspended running track that was installed in the 1940s will remain in place, linking different areas of the college, and a bridge will be added to connect the new structure to the existing campus.
Work has already begun on the project, which is set to be completed in 2018.