Rendering of the Switch Pyramid data center outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Image: Switch)

Switch Launches Its Pyramid-Shaped Data Center in Michigan

Switch, the data center provider known for its massive SuperNAP data center campus in Las Vegas, announced Thursday the launch of the first data center on its new campus in Michigan, a converted pyramid-shaped structure that used to be a corporate office building.

Slick and bold data center design has been a staple of the Switch brand, and the facility outside of Grand Rapids is no different. Besides the fact that it’s probably the only pyramid in the world whose sole purpose is to house internet infrastructure, bold red pipes outside contrast with the pyramid’s grey walls, giving it a futuristic, sci-fi look, while dramatic lighting inside makes it feel like a cross between a modern corporate lobby and a night club.

Those features alone distinguish it from other data centers around the world, most of which (with some exceptions) are plain, nondescript concrete boxes from the outside and purely utilitarian infrastructure facilities on the inside, designed to perform their core function and absolutely nothing else.

But the Switch pyramid takes things even further. Suspended from the ceiling in the center of the building, in its main lobby, is a massive Focault pendulum, giving visitors a chance to contemplate Earth’s relentless rotation as they wait for their appointments:

This is only the first building on what Switch has dubbed the Pyramid Campus. It is designed to provide 225,000 square feet of data center space, while the full-campus design promises up to 1.8 million square feet of space and up to 320MW of power.

Switch has pledged to power its data centers with renewable energy and said it secured enough renewable energy to power the pyramid data center. It was the only data center provider to receive all “A”s in Greenpeace’s latest Clicking Clean report, which grades data center operators based on the amount of resources they devote to using, buying, promoting, and advocating for powering data centers with renewable energy.

This is the second Switch data center location to open this year. The company, whose customers include eBay, Amazon Web Services, Fox, Hulu, and Boeing, among many others, recently launched the first data center on its new Reno, Nevada, campus, which was also its first data center outside of Las Vegas. It is also building data centers in Italy and Thailand as joint ventures.

The Michigan facility is targeting customers in Chicago, New York, Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Toronto markets. State lawmakers rushed a data center tax break bill through the legislative process in 2015 to attract the project to Michigan.

The company said at the time it was weighing multiple location options. Following the state’s adoption of the new tax breaks, Switch CEO, Rob Roy, told Data Center Knowledge in an interview that the company would not have chosen Michigan, had the state not enacted the incentive bill.

“In the legislature, we took very seriously our commitment to creating public policy that would enable and encourage new companies like Switch to make Michigan the most competitive state in the region for economic development,” Michigan State Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-Grand Haven) said in a statement. “Having the technology backbone of the internet right here in Michigan up and running ahead of schedule definitely delivers on the vision of that policy.”

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About the Author

San Francisco-based business and technology journalist. Editor in chief at Data Center Knowledge, covering the global data center industry.

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  1. Just an additional comment to the article, Rob Roy does indeed design bold, amazing data centers from an aesthetics point of view. But don't forget they are the world's best performing data centers as well. Switch is the only colocation provider to receive dual Tier IV Gold (Audited) certifications on its SwitchMOD design and we received all As and a 100% for our use of all renewable energy from Greenpeace.