Huge Data Bunker Planned in Louisville

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StrataSpace announced this week that it has completed site preparation for a 500,000-square-foot underground data center outside Louisville, Kentucky. StrataSpace, which first announced the project in early 2005, said it has hired CCG Facilities Integration Inc. and The Bick Group to provide architecture and engineering services as it “finalizes the mechanical systems design and tenant spaces.”

The StrataSpace facility is 65 feet underground and will house approximately 250,000 square feet of raised-floor equipment space, plus 250,000 square feet of support area for mechanical systems. In addition to security, StrataSpace says tenants can also benefit from low utility rates in Kentucky, as well as the constant ambient temperature of 59 degrees within the facility, which lowers cooling costs.

There have been numerous below-ground data center projects over the years, most of which have converted existing “bunker” facilities to use as colocation centers. Some prominent examples:

  • The Bunker is a 10-year old ultra-secure colo facility built in a former nuclear bunker in Newbury, England.
  • Iron Mountain has a data center within its huge underground records storage facility near Pittsburgh, previously known as the National Underground.
  • The Westlin Corporation operates a 40,000 square foot data center near Houston that was built in the 1980s by a Chinese oilman fearful of a nuclear war. Tenants include Continental Airlines.
  • Titan One, an ultra-secure data center in Moses Lake, Washington that was originally a NORAD Command and Control facility built by the Department of Defense.

Other underground data center projects are either moving slowly or have faded from view. The web site for Underground Secure Data Center Operations is no longer active. The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based data center project received widespread publicity in 2001 when it launched its operations in an inactive gypsum mine. The usdco.com web site appears to have gone offline in 2003.

In this week’s press release, StrataSpace detailed the steps it has taken to prepare the site for tenants. These include the installation of an automated ventilation system, a generator room designed to support 24 megawatts of backup generator power, a fuel area designed to support 125,000 gallons of diesel fuel, redundant fiber rings from telecommunication carriers, and the construction of an office building that includes a Network Operations Center.

Data centers aren’t the only underground commercial real estate projects, of course. The Subsurface Buildings web site includes a list of 475 such projects in the United States, not including the more than 5,000 underground residences.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.