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Beloit College’s Powerhouse Project receives WAFX prize

Beloit College’s Powerhouse Project has been awarded a WAFX Prize from the World Architectural Festival. Founded in 2017, the WAFX Prize “recognizes future projects that identify key ecological and societal challenges that architects are actively seeking to address over the next ten years,” according to the World Architectural Festival (WAF) website.

“We had aspired to develop a facility that was among the best in higher education in America. But, we overshot,” President Scott Bierman said in an email to the Beloit College community on Friday, Nov. 9. “There is more to say, but let’s keep it simple right now because the message of this day is gloriously simple. It is a best in the world kind of day to be a Beloiter.”

WAF revealed the winners of its 10 WAFX prizes on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. The Beloit College Powerhouse, a product of architectural firm Studio Gang, won WAF’s “Re-Use” award.

“Transforming a former power plant into a student union and recreation facility, Studio Gang’s Beloit College Powerhouse Project seeks to replace an old model of energy with a new model to support the health and wellbeing of its many inhabitants,” WAF’s website said. “The Powerhouse is designed to become a centre for human energy, activity and health. Nestled between the Rock River and the college’s campus, the Powerhouse will serve as a recreational resource and a community forum, all the while fostering a public connection to the riverfront – embracing it rather than polluting it– that foregrounds the connection between human and environmental health.

“The judges were impressed not only with the repurposing of its cavernous industrial spaces, but with how the project [maximizes] its riverfront location, [utilizing] river water to manage the temperature of the building whilst also significantly [minimizing] total energy use.”

“Studio Gang’s masterful Beloit College Powerhouse Project triumphed over a very strong field and we look forward to hearing more from them and the other prize winners when the festival convenes in November,” said Paul Finch, Programme Director of the World Architectural Festival.

WAF’s awards are granted to projects that tackle challenges such as “climate change, energy saving and carbon emissions, water wastage and shortage, ageing populations and health issues, reusable materials, smart cities, building technology, cultural identity, ethics and power and justice,” according to the WAF website. The prize winners “will be given the opportunity to present their projects live at the World Architectural Festival [on Nov. 28 and 29], with the overall winner receiving a prize at the Festival’s star-studded Gala Dinner [on Nov. 30], the culmination of the three-day event at the RAI convention centre in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam.”

“We have been amazed by the standard of entries across this year’s future project categories and the prize winners in addressing some of [humanity’s] greatest concerns,” Finch said. “Rather than being purely ‘pie in the sky’ conceptual work, each is firmly grounded in reality, presenting practical solutions to issues around the world.”

WAF’s other awards include “Ageing and Health,” which was presented to the Alder Center by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris in Liverpool, England; “Building and Technology” to the W350Project by Nikken Sekkei in Tokyo, Japan; “Climate, Energy and Carbon” to the Highway Solerpanel Field by 70F Architecture in Almere, Netherlands; “Cultural Identity” to Ataturk Culture Center by Tabanlioglu Architects in Istanbul, Turkey; “Ethics and Value” to Sheltainer – Where Humanity Meets Hope by Sheltainer in Egypt; “Food” to Cuchi Organic Eco Farm by Integrated Field in Cuchi, Vietnam; “Power and Justice” to Tower Inten City by Savage Dodd Architects and Urbanworks in Johannesburg, South Africa; “Smart Cities” to 10 KM by Shma Company Limited in Bangkok, Thailand; and “Water” to Medellin River Parks / Botanical Master Plan by Sebastian Monslave and Juan David Hoyos in Medellin, Colombia.

Studio Gang was founded by Jeanne Gang, a native of Belvidere, Ill., which is a suburb of Rockford. The firm, which specializes in architecture and urban design, is headquartered in Chicago with offices in New York, San Francisco and Paris. Studio Gang works as a collective of 100 architects, designers and planners, “using design as a medium to connect people to each other, to their communities, and to the environment,” according to Studio Gang’s website.

The WAFX awards are sponsored by GreenCoat Colorful Steel, a brand owned by Swedish-Finnish steel company SSAB.

Sources: studiogang.com, worldarchitecturalfestival.com

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