Powerhouse to Open This Week
The Powerhouse is finally powering up. After clearing some of the final hurdles, Beloit College’s $38 million project is finally due to open its doors for regular hours next Monday, Feb. 10. This comes as the latest in a series of final deadlines that Beloit has set for the grand opening of the building.
This time, though, there won’t be any more delays, said Sonya Hoppes, the Assistant Director of Recreation and Activity. “There are a few events that are set in stone,” she told the Round Table in an interview inside the Powerhouse on Friday, Jan. 31.
On the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 6, an event will be held for students to walk across the bridge and enter the Powerhouse for the first time. The next day, Feb. 7, the building will host a Donor Recognition and Board of Trustees event, and on Feb. 8, there will be an event for the community around Beloit to access the building for a few hours before the building is closed and made ready for normal business hours.
For Hoppes, a Beloit local, it was important for students to be the first to get access to the brand new facility, a moment that has taken more than half a decade to come together. “We really want the students to be the first group of people to experience the completed space,” she said. “There was a lot of intentionality around making this a student building,” she added, emphasizing the amount of student input that was incorporated into the project.
Unfortunately, not all of the buildings will be ready in the coming days. The Riverwalk and Fieldhouse portions of the buildings are two of the larger sections that will remain under construction until spring or even into the summer.
Despite the obvious excitement around the prospect of finally being able to use the Powerhouse facilities, some students have still expressed frustration over the numerous delays and costs associated with the Powerhouse. Lynden Blomberg’23 said that the Powerhouse had negatively impacted his trust in the administration at Beloit College, but added, “I’m really looking forward to sitting on the deck on the river.”
Dan Schooff, the Secretary of the College and the Powerhouse Project Manager talked about the Powerhouse with The Round Table on Jan. 31. He preached perspective to students, saying, “remember the timeline. In 2014, the College announced that it had signed a deal [to build the Powerhouse].” At the time, he said, “the goal was to open in fall of 2019.” A previous issue of the Round Table from February 2018 noted the original goal put forward by the school was for the Powerhouse to open in August of 2019.
However, that deadline was missed because the project had to replace their structural engineer. “That was a very big complication,” Schooff said. That wasn’t the only challenge, though. Due to the fact that the original structure was built in three different stages, it was extremely difficult to build the Powerhouse in a way that was accessible and safe for all students. “It ended up being like building 4 separate buildings,” Schooff said. He also specifically cited the suspended track and the sustainability of the building as unique challenges presented to the construction staff.
Ultimately, though, Schooff emphasized the ways in which the Powerhouse would transform student life. The swimming pool is “probably the best small-school Division III pool in the country,” he said, and he also praised the study spaces, fitness center, and track as exciting additions to the campus.