Some challenges with the 6th floor space at Fisher Plaza immediately presented themselves. Because Seattle is in an active seismic zone and the Fisher Plaza building is designed to sway during a seismic event as much as 10” in any given direction on the 6th floor, the structural engineers determined that there was going to be an issue with loading the floor full of heavy racks and UPS systems.
In addition to floor loading, a main concern was how much weight the building’s steel frame could support as it started moving from side-to-side (lateral load). The fact that the data center was on the 6th floor compounded the concern because of the leverage placed on the building at the end of the lever (the “water tower” effect). This limit presented a significant potential impact to TierPoint’s revenue as, without a creative solution, TierPoint would not be able to accommodate enough racks of customer equipment to make the space work financially. Also, accommodating the heaviest of the loads, the 18,000 lbs UPS modules, and maximizing the space that would be available to TierPoint’s customers would require complex and strategic equipment placement and orientation.
The height of the 6th floor also presented a challenge for delivering chilled water to the Computer Room Air Handlers (CRAH). The existing plumbing wasn’t sufficient to deliver the volume of water needed to support the cooling equipment specified in the design. Additionally, the raised floor of the data center wouldn’t allow enough room to adequately distribute water and drain condensate without interfering with airflow.
These major challenges needed expedient resolution, and the tight timeline exacerbated the difficulties. The City of Seattle has a strict and lengthy permitting process that includes securing a firm appointment a month in advance to submit plans. If that appointment is missed, it could take another month to secure a meeting. That meant the construction plans had to be completed without extension or delays. The design team needed to meet the TierPoint’s expedited build, while working within the confines of the building limitations and Seattle building codes.
With a non-negotiable commissioning date, time was of the essence. TierPoint had worked with Schneider Electric Data Center Life Cycle in the past and once again turned to their trusted technical and construction partner for this complicated and time-sensitive design and build project.
Fully integrated project delivery from a single companyHaving a single point of contact for the project from start to finish was critical to the successful execution of the data center construction, installation, and start-up. Everyone on the Schneider Electric Data Center Life Cycle Services and the project team was pulled together efficiently.
Accelerated fast-track schedule for design and constructionWorking closely with TierPoint, Hines, and the contractors on the project team, Schneider Electric Data Center Life Cycle Services was able to complete a final design within weeks instead of months. Completed construction plans were submitted to the City of Seattle Building Department a record setting 17 days after receiving the TierPoint design contract. With multiple contractors working concurrently, there was a tremendous amount of coordination and project management required to keep the project on time and on budget. Schneider Electric Data Center Life Cycle Services held weekly project meetings to coordinate the efforts of the various team members and address issues quickly.
Innovative design solutions to retrofit existing spaceThrough tireless structural analysis, the Schneider Electric Data Center Life Cycle Services team was able to identify that isolating the anchoring of only the heavy UPS Modules would mitigate the limited lateral loading challenges of the building’s 6-story steel frame and would make structural isolation of the rest of the new equipment and customer racks unnecessary.
The city electrical inspector was fully engaged throughout the design and final installation. Custom conduits and power distribution connections were developed to accommodate the challenge of moving the 18,000lbs UPS equipment to the 6th floor of the data center.
The design for the data center included a complete cooling solution - including sophisticated louvers replacing the building's existing exterior window system, plumbing for the CRAH units and drainage for the condensation, to apply the 1.5 megawatts of 2N critical power capacity data center and the city's building codes.
Working with McKinstry, the local mechanical engineer, Schneider Electric Data Center Life Cycle Services addressed several complications with the cooling infrastructure, including designing and submitting a custom fan wall system to “UL” for review and certification. Customized louver requirements, lack of condensate drainage, water volume limitations, and plumbing constraints required modifications to the overall design.
Energizing a new data center within 11 weeksThe 6th floor of Fisher Plaza had previously been used as office space and the construction team had to assist Hines with the removal of the remaining furnishing and fixtures before they could begin demolition and clearing of the 6th floor. "The normal timeline for a project this size would be at least 180 days, and that’s starting from a bare shell.” Darin Honodel, Director of Facilities at TierPoint explains. With all the constraints, Schneider Electric Data Center Life Cycle Services met the delivery date and TierPoint had the new data center energized on September 3rd, 2013 - just 11 weeks after executing the construction contract.
Two such specialized experts called in by Schneider Electric Data Center Life Cycle Services were Degenkolb Engineers and WorkSafe Technologies. Degenkolb Engineering designed an innovative solution for accommodating the heavy UPS equipment while not compromising the structural integrity of the building. WorkSafe was called in to custom design, fabricate and install ball bearing isolation platforms for the heavy UPS equipment that met the stringent Degenkolb Engineering specifications. The ISO pads would allow the UPS to sway as much as 20” in any direction effectively negating the weight of the 18,000lbs Symmetra PX 500kW UPS equipment during a seismic event.
Once installed on the ISO pads, the UPS equipment would remain in place while the building swayed underneath it. Without the added weight of the UPS equipment factored into the lateral building load during seismic activity, the entire structure would remain safely within the 10” tolerance while allowing TierPoint to have enough customer racks on the floor to address financial requirements.
As an active, multi-tenant building, Schneider Electric Data Center Life Cycle Services and other expert contractors in the project team had to make accommodations to avoid interruption of power and chilled water services to other tenants during construction. As an additional complication frequently encountered in retrofit projects, contingencies had to be made by Schneider Electric Data Center Life Cycle Services to work within existing control structures as the project progressed. With TierPoint’s tight security, electrical, and scheduling requirements, there wasn’t much room for compromise.
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