Switch Pyramid Data Center Kicks Off Grand Rapids Campus

March 9, 2017
Switch has opened its new data center campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan, converting a unique pyramid-shaped office building into a large data center.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Switch continues to expand the geographic footprint of its huge data centers, announcing today that it has opened its new cloud campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The new campus is the first U.S. facility outside Nevada for Switch, and is strategically significant because it enables the company to offer data center space for companies seeing geographic diversity for their IT workloads. It also provides lower latency connectivity to major data center hubs in Chicago, greater New York and Northern Virginia.

The Grand Rapids campus is designed for up to 1.8 million square feet of data center space and up to 320 megawatts (MW) of power. It features one of the most unusual data center structures in the country, the Switch Pyramid. The unique property was built in 1989 to house offices for the Steelcase furniture company. The first phase of construction is an adaptive reuse of the pyramid that will create 225,000 square feet of data center space.

A Boost for Michigan

It’s the latest in a series of innovative data center projects enacting the vision of Switch founder Rob Roy, who has a history of innovation in data center design.

“Rob Roy’s vision has turned one of the most iconic buildings in the country into the foundation of what we believe will be the most advanced technology ecosystem campus in the eastern U.S.,” said Switch Executive Vice President for Strategy Adam Kramer.

“Since the announcement of Switch’s expansion into Michigan, the state has been attracting the tech world’s attention, defining the region and the state as an epicenter for technology that runs the internet of absolutely everything,” Kramer added.

The Switch Grand Rapids project underscores several trends we’ve been highlighting here at Data Center Frontier, especially the emergence of massive cloud campuses that concentrate massive amounts of computing power in multiple data center facilities. Data center hubs enable companies to rapidly add server capacity and electric power, creating economies of scale as more workloads migrate into these massive server farms.

Jobs in the Spotlight

The Switch Grand Rapids project was enabled by a series of incentives that exempt all data centers and colocation businesses from the sales and use tax on data center equipment for 20 years. The package would end the tax exemptions if the data center industry does not collectively create at least 400 new jobs in Michigan by 2022 and 1,000 new jobs by 2026.

Switch has employed more than 700 people the Grand Rapids site in construction and mission-critical positions during construction and development.

The project was led by local general contractor, The Christman Company, and 99 percent of these workers are Michigan residents. Switch said it expects that hundreds more people will be employed as the campus is built out.

“From an economic development perspective, Switch has established a new industry in the state and our region, bringing new opportunities to existing businesses and attracting new interest from outside technology and related companies.” said Birgit Klohs, President and CEO of The Right Place, the economic development corporation for the Grand Rapids area.

Switch has begun development efforts for the first 471,248-square-foot Switch GRAND RAPIDS 1 data center on the property adjacent to the Pyramid, the first of several data center facilities planned for the site. The campus is expected to be in continuous expansion for at least 10 years, extending the employment impact of its construction work.

This video from Switch lays out its vision for the Grand Rapids campus.

The original SUPERNAP expressed Roy’s vision of a new approach to high-density data center design. Built in 2007, the 400,000 square foot data center was most notable for its enormous size, but also showcased new ideas in cooling and aisle containment that Roy developed as he filled six smaller data centers in Las Vegas between 2000 and 2006.

A History of Innovation

The 1.4 million square foot Switch SUPERNAP Las Vegas project was recently name the number one cloud campus in our rating of the world’s Top 10 cloud campuses.

Inside the data hall, Roy’s design for a hot aisle containment system enabled customers to support up to 42 kW per cabinet. The cooling units, who are housed outside the building, are unusually versatile, supporting six different modes of cooling. The software that manages the system selects the most efficient cooling method based on the exterior temperature, humidity and other conditions. The cooling system is supported by a rotary flywheel, which can ensure that the cooling units will continue to move air through the data halls in the event of a utility power outage.

The SwitchSHIELD double roof system provides protection against winds up to 200 miles an hour – more than enough to protect against winds in Tahoe and Reno.

A public grand opening is planned for the Switch Grand Rapids campus is planned later in 2017.

About the Author

Rich Miller

I write about the places where the Internet lives, telling the story of data centers and the people who build them. I founded Data Center Knowledge, the data center industry's leading news site. Now I'm exploring the future of cloud computing at Data Center Frontier.

Getty Images, Courtesy of Schneider Electric

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