With over two decades of design experience, data centers are second nature to IDS. The new Quicken Loans project has provided a different approach to the traditional bunker-type building that is inductive of most data centers. Where most are designed to blend in, the new Quicken Loans Data Center Building seeks to be just the opposite. The plan was to create an aesthetically exciting space—inside and out, with a secondary goal to revitalize a declining neighborhood in Detroit.
This data center was born out of Quicken Loan’s desire to build their own. They quickly realized that in creating a high-level tier-three data center they could also attract other high-end data center customers. So the new facility is designed to serve another business that would inevitably bring some buzz and excitement to an area outside of downtown Detroit that is in desperate need of new life. The surprising part for IDS was when they learned that QL wanted the center to be visually fun and exciting. “When we first met with Quicken to determine their needs for the center,” IDS Principal-in-Charge Rich Bracci explained, “they told us they wanted to show up first in an online search for data centers…and to look more visually exciting than industry leaders’ housing servers!” The paradigm shift in design has proven to be an interesting and exciting design process for IDS.
Architecturally the new facility had two quests: to showcase their intent to be an exciting place of attraction and revitalization, and to be as secure and reliable as possible. Colorful lights, organic to the interior of all data centers are presented strategically on the outside in an almost casino-like way to represent energy and vitality. Inside lights immediately indicate to the users the temperature status of the cold and hot aisles through the use of blue and red LEDs. “There is a dichotomy of this concept of an unoccupied data center and the idea that people really need to be there,” IDS Architect Jeff Johnson considers. “Within our office we’ve had to really bring our designers along to help them understand that we are not building a warehouse, but an ultra-secure glass cube!”
Security efforts include a building structure that can withstand 125 mile-per-hour winds—when 90 mph is the norm, and the facility itself is built like a bunker with two-hour fire walls to protect the individual data halls should any disaster occur to one. “The structure is designed to be secure yet we were mindful of the overall energy consumption and designed the building with low power usage effectiveness (PUE) in mind,” comments IDS Architect David Giroux. With data centers consuming a tremendous amount of energy every little bit of energy savings counts!
The infrastructure of any data center is where the technology and engineering demands are epic in scope. Quicken Loan’s daily transactions demand high-level processing speeds and avoiding downtime is critical. Redundancy is the only way to ensure effectiveness. The facility is designed to meet a Tier III rating criteria as defined by the Uptime Institute; Tier IV is the highest level. This certification defines the allowable yearly downtime. To achieve this level, IDS has included a system that offers two parallel paths of redundancy from the utility power plant to server plug-strips. The facility boasts two 13.2KV DTE services, each hall has two indoor unit substations, two 13.2 KV 2.5MVA generators, 2.8MVA of flywheel UPS systems, five heat wheel cooling systems, 1.4MVA of data hall load, static grounding systems, lighting protection system, dual action dry pipe fire protection system and many more features to increase reliability and minimize operation costs. Other important considerations to managing downtime include redundancy of mechanical heating and cooling systems.