World’s Largest Data Center: 350 E. Cermak

And the number one entry in our list of the world’s largest data centers …

1. 350 EAST CERMAK, CHICAGO, 1.1 MILLION SQUARE FEET

An aerial view of 350 East Cermak, the 1.1 million square foot data center facility in Chicago.

The Lakeside Technology Center (350 East Cermak) is a 1.1 million square foot multi-tenant data center hub  owned by Digital Realty Trust. Originally developed by the R.R. Donnelley Co. to house the printing presses for the Yellow Book and Sears Catalog, 350 East Cermak was converted to telecom use in 1999, and today it is one of the world’s largest carrier hotels and the nerve center for Chicago’s commodity markets, housing data centers for financial firms attracted by the wealth of peering and connectivity providers among the 70 tenants.

The industrial strength infrastructure includes four fiber vaults and three electric power feeds, which provide the building with more than 100 megawatts of power. 350 East Cermak is currently the second-largest power customer for Commonwealth Edison, trailing only Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Grid power is supported by more than 50 generators throughout the building, which are fueled by multiple 30,000 gallon tanks of diesel fuel.

One of the most distinctive features of the facility is its cooling system, which is supported by an 8.5 million gallon tank of a refrigerated brine-like liquid (seen at left in the top photo). The huge tank serves as thermal energy storage for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), including the nearby McCormick Place Exposition Center and Hyatt Regency Hotel as well as 350 East Cermak. Thermal energy storage can reduce costs by running chillers during off-peak hours when power rates are lower.

For more information, see Chicago’s Data Fortress for the Digital Economy. Here are some additional images:

This hallway provides a glimpse of the Gothic architecture that provides a sense of atmosphere not seen at most data center buildings.

The building may have its exterior flourishes, but underneath it's industrial-strength ifnrastructure. This view of one of the four main risers provides a sense of the power and fiber infrastructure.

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