Data Centers: Building Trust with Digital Realty

"DPR has done a great job helping us get to market quickly with this move-in-ready data center space."
"DPR Construction is a strong partner with proven execution and a great understanding of our business objectives."
"DPR has done a great job helping us get to market quickly with this move-in-ready data center space."
"DPR Construction is a strong partner with proven execution and a great understanding of our business objectives."

DPR has developed a strong relationship with and built a variety of projects for leading data center owner and manager in regions coast to coast

DPR’s high degree of coordination, focused collaboration and keen attention to detail enable Digital Realty Trust to get to market quickly with move-in-ready data center spaces.

Beginning with a data center project in the Bay Area and then continuing with a host of other projects in regions across the country, DPR has forged a strong relationship with Digital Realty Trust over the last several years. Digital Realty Trust’s 71 properties are located in 26 markets across North America and Europe, and these data center facilities contain applications and operations critical to the day-to-day operations of technology industry tenants and corporate enterprise data center tenants. According to Steve Kundich, vice president of Digital Realty Trust, DPR’s understanding of the owner’s business needs and its proven ability to perform have formed the basis for a successful relationship.

Team Players

Client: Digital Realty Trust

Architect: Dowler-Gruman Architects; Integrated Design Group; Peter Lendrum Architecture

“We have a philosophy of getting the best people with the most competitive price,” Kundich commented. “We have to have good partners. There is a strong data center demand, so we have needed to move quickly, and we want qualified teams who understand our business objectives and who can execute.” He added that “DPR’s rolling completion list and driving for a zero punchlist help set up the projects for success.”

DPR parlayed its early success on a mission critical tenant improvement at a Digital Realty Trust-owned data center in Santa Clara, CA to win subsequent projects in the Bay Area, as well as in Arizona, Georgia, Texas and Virginia. While every project is unique, each has required a high degree of coordination, focused collaboration and attention to detail—all of which are DPR hallmarks. Information and lessons learned that have been shared from one project to the next have provided significant benefits.

“DPR has been a great partner in supporting a wide range of projects, including build-outs for our Turn-Key Datacenters™, which is a data center product that is unique in the industry,” said Kundich. Located in markets throughout North America and Europe, Digital Realty Trust’s Turn-Key Datacenters enable customers to rapidly establish new data centers in spaces with advanced power, cooling, redundancy and security capabilities.

Scalable from hundreds of kilowatts of IT load to megawatts of IT load, each Turn-Key facility is physically secure and features a state-of-the-art power and cooling architecture that has been optimized for green operation.

Every Turn-Key Datacenter is built using the company’s proprietary POD Architecture™ and uses metered power to ensure that clients pay only for the power that they use. Each Turn-Key facility is also managed via Digital Realty Trust’s Critical Facilities Management™ program to ensure the maximum uptime of mission critical applications.

Kundich added, “We have very specific methodologies, tight timelines and very high standards for the construction of these Turn-Key Datacenters, and DPR has done a great job helping us get to market quickly with this move-in-ready data center space.”

Building in Georgia & Virginia

In the Atlanta region, DPR successfully completed the data center in June 2007, following a nine-month construction schedule. The project comprised a build-out of several thousand sq. ft., of which half was raised-floor space; the other half a support office and MEP rooms. The center also includes two 400-ton chillers, a two-megawatt generator and 18 CRAC units.

Because the new data center was placed in an existing high-bay warehouse, significant structural upgrades were required so the structure could support the weight of the new MEP systems. All electrical feeds to the building had to be installed underground. “We had to cut up large portions of the slab, while also trying to build walls and put in columns,” said Project Superintendent Todd Armistead. “That created some significant logistical and coordination challenges, as well as safety concerns.” The strong team environment fostered on the job helped mitigate those challenges. “We had a very homogenous unit; a really collaborative, hands-on team atmosphere,” Armistead said.

Success on the Lithia Springs project helped DPR land another job with Digital Realty Trust in the Falls Church, VA region. That project encompasses an N+1 raised-floor Turn-Key Datacenter, including office buildout within an existing building. Prior to the start of this job, DPR team members from Digital Realty Trust projects in the Bay Area, Phoenix and Atlanta met with DPR’s Falls Church team, architect Integrated Design Group, the project engineer and the owner’s representative. The objective was for team members to build on the success and “lessons learned” of other project teams. “The Falls Church team was able to learn from our experience and get to know this owner in a relaxed setting before the project kicked off, which was very beneficial,” Armistead said.

DPR began construction on this project in July 2007. Approximately one-third of the way into construction, a tenant was secured for the space—dramatically changing the project requirements. “It became a secured compartmentalized internet facility (SCIF), which affected virtually every trade on the project,” said Project Executive Brian Brezovsky. Additional challenges included a design change in the secondary pumps, which extended the delivery time for that critical item, as well as the unexpected need to excavate an extensive amount of rock on site.

DPR stepped up to meet the challenges through extended work hours and other measures, turning over the commissioned project this March. In the meantime, DPR was awarded a second project on this site, the buildout of Suite 140. That project, comprising a data center and ancillary space, began in late February and is slated to be turned over June 1. DPR is accomplishing the fast-track schedule through extended work hours and days.

Brezovsky credits the project team’s efforts for the success of both jobs. “A lot of long hours and hard work really paid off. Another thing that has helped is the continuity in the team from one job to the other.”

Building in Arizona & California

In downtown Phoenix, DPR recently completed the renovation of an existing data center for Digital Realty Trust. The project is DPR’s second in this historical building. Eight years ago, it completed the original conversion from an old newspaper printing plant into an early generation data center. Project Executive Tom Maples says that historical knowledge of the building proved to be an advantage. “We were aware of some—but not all—of the secrets behind the walls,” he said.

The project, which had a phased completion earlier this year, entailed renovation of portions of the building. It included bringing in new electrical service, installation of three generators, an additional rooftop cooling tower, and the development of two data suites.

The project team faced the challenge of building on a tight downtown site and constructing in an occupied, fully functioning building. Much of the work had to be performed off hours and on the weekends, with extensive coordination required with building managers and the local utility company. Maples credited the project team for “persevering through a really tough schedule. They never faltered and never impacted the end users.”

DPR completed 11 small projects at the downtown Phoenix site, from upgrades for the building managers to buildouts for tenants. DPR also recently wrapped up several Bay Area Digital Realty Trust projects, including a data center and service yard in San Francisco, and is currently working on a large buildout in Santa Clara that is targeting LEED® for Commercial Interiors certification.

“Efficient energy use is on everyone’s minds, and we are committed to reducing data center power needs, while increasing operational effectiveness for our customers,” said Kundich. “We’ve been utilizing DPR, who also has a strong commitment to green practices, across the country. As long as they are good, performing teams at a competitive price, we want to continue to build upon our relationship.”

Kundich added, “Digital Realty Trust is committed to expanding our lead in the design and delivery of data centers, and DPR Construction is a strong partner with proven execution and a great understanding of our business objectives. Going forward, we will seek to build on our success with DPR to continue to complete the best data center facilities in the shortest time frames and in the most cost-competitive manner.”

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