Michael J. Mace, AIA, Associate Principal, Page Southerland Page, LLP (July 2011)
One size doesn't fit all - Each facility is different and each owner has specific goals for his/her facility. The architect and contractor must be able to understand the owner's needs and be able to adapt to them.
One of the most challenging projects we have done was to convert a 1980s' two-story manufacturing facility that housed a small data center. The project required a significant renovation/expansion to convert the building to a large data center. The project had to be designed and constructed without taking the existing data center offline. The project included a new dual-feed utility service entrance/distribution, new generator plant, new chilled water central plant, new dual mission-critical chilled water loop, an upgrade of the existing building structure to an EF2 tornado rating, and an upgrade of the white space floor-loading capacity from 100 PSF to 250 PSF.
Phase one of the project included 2.5 MW of IT load, 25,000 square feet of white space, administrative support space, a new building management system, and related support spaces. The project included a fast-track construction packaging delivery and construction execution process. The project required extensive programming, on-site investigations and planning to develop the demolition sequencing, construction implementation, and project interim phasing requirements. During the course of the project, the client requested multiple designs or "what if" scenarios related to the new data center white space. The design team had to vet these options for consideration while keeping the original design scope on schedule.
The design team worked with the general contractor and owner to define the impacts of the various concepts relating to schedule and budget variances to determine the best and highest use for the facility. The initial phase was designed and constructed within a 14-month duration and incorporated all of the facility upgrades to provide a plug-and-play fit-up of subsequent phases.
Collaboration is the key - Without question, it is the ability of the owner, architect, and contractor to enter into a collaborative relationship that determines the success of a fast-tracked project. Collaboration means not only sitting at the same table talking, but each party understanding and respecting the strengths and needs of the other. When that happens, and a few simple techniques are applied, the result is a facility that is ready in the shortest time possible - achieving true speed to market.