Cloud computing has become a windfall for the data center industry, especially in northern Virginia where abundant fiber, cost-effective and reliable power, tax incentive programs from the State, proactive support from the County and a robust infrastructure. The market has been called “Data Center Alley” for having the highest concentration of data centers in the country, which process 85% of the world’s internet traffic.
LOCATION: Cityname, ST
OWNER: Owner Name
ARCHITECT: Architects Name (please link)
CONTRACTOR: Contractor name (please link)
The largest data center companies have bought up hundreds of acres of land for future development. RagingWire’s VA2 data center was originally planned, and design started, as part of a separate 78 acre site. However, when a customer needed their leased space earlier, RagingWire acquired this project’s two story office / manufacturing / warehouse structure on the same street as their recently completed VA1 facility.
Built in 2011, the 123,000 square foot existing structure consisted of 7¼ inch thick load-bearing exterior concrete wall panels, with a two story interior steel frame using typical column bays of 40 feet x 40 feet. The second floor and roof framing consist of steel joist girders framing to wide flange columns and supporting open web steel joists. At the second floor, a three inch concrete slab on formdeck is carried by joists spaced at 2 feet on center, with wide rib roof deck carried by joists. Existing columns are supported on reinforced concrete spread footings, and penetrated the roof surface with the capacity to carry up to 120 kips of additional load which became crucial to the project. Lateral forces are resisted by the precast concrete shear walls.
Rathgeber/Goss Associates worked diligently with the design team and contractor on a fast track, design build approach. The building was perfect for conversion to a data center, as only three windows near the building entrance, 11 exit doors, and 6 overhead doors penetrated the 1100 linear foot perimeter. There were however, knock-out panel locations built into the existing bearing wall structure which allowed the architect flexibility for additional openings and the mechanical engineer louver locations.
With the available vertical column expansion capabilities, along with a roof designed for only a 30 psf live load, the design team elected to build an additional penthouse floor at 3½ to 4 feet above the existing sloped roof. The new composite slab framing provided the support necessary for floor mounted air handlers that cool the data vaults on the two existing floors using air-side economization by allowing air into a cooling plenum on one side of the building, which then flows under a raised floor and into the equipment area. Exhaust heat exits through louvers on the other side of the hall. The plenum was created by removing a 4’-0” wide section of roof deck between the existing roof joists. A new penthouse roof was constructed using steel beams, open web joists, and galvanized roof deck.
In order to maintain the entirety of the existing two floors as seven 12,500 square foot data halls and equipment rooms, a 40 foot wide second floor expansion of 15,000 square feet was added full length along the building’s south face to be used as offices and operations centers. These rooms were designed for a 100 psf live load to allow flexibility for subdividing and customizing among tenants, based on how much staff they require. New steel columns above grade were held 16 feet inboard from the new face of the building with cantilevered girders supporting the second floor joists at 24 inch spacing and a transfer column at the cantilever end. The 16 foot long cantilever allowed for 34 covered parking spaces under the addition to serve the small building population.
Three cooling towers (90,000 pounds each), generators, transformers, freight elevator, water storage room and significant piping were added at the rear of the building where parking spaces, no longer required, were eliminated. The 13 generators, weighing 116,000 pounds each with fuel and oil, were staggered (7 on grade and six on raised platforms with catwalks) with new steel columns closest to the existing rear wall extended up to support steel beams spaced at 11 feet to carry six 14 inch pipes with water weighing 179 pounds per foot, and cabling weighing 400 pounds per foot. Two exterior stairs, comprised of galvanized HSS beams and columns, and strategically located screen walls are finished with perforated panels of varying colors to “upgrade” the original white precast concrete box.
The owner believes the finished product will attract companies that require enterprise grade data center space for their critical information technology (IT) systems with reliability and efficiency. Their vision has been successful, as tenants have leased large areas, including one that occupies an entire data hall.