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You wish you worked here
More than just row upon row of whirring information-storage obelisks, today’s repositories of zeroes and ones take data center design to the next level.
For example: Proving that Sweden can be not only cold but also cool, this hip underground data bunker run by internet service provider Bahnhof looks like it could survive a hydrogen bomb…
… but that’s only because it was built by the Swedish government 100 feet under Stockholm in the ’70s for just that purpose.
This may be why WikiLeaks uses Pionen to store its servers.
The facility is tricked out with tropical plants, a waterfall, a 600-plus gallon fish tank, and craggy, granite walls.
Microsoft Data Center -- Chicago
We admit it: Sometimes Microsoft gives us the blues. But here they’re doing it in a good way with this beautiful server farm at its Chicago-area data center. The $500 million project is one cool customer, thanks to 7.5 miles of chilled water piping.
Google Data Center Cooling Plant -- Douglas County, Georgia
Leave it to Google to carry its playful colorful logo hues over into the cooling system to protect all your vital Gmails and whatnot.
And, of course, these colors are not only nice to look at, but also practical aids for workers following the flow. Bike transport helps navigate the search giant’s massive data centers.
Google employee hangout -- Council Bluffs, Iowa
The employee community center at Google’s Council Bluffs, Iowa, data center is refurbished from an old church.
Torre Girona chapel -- Barcelona, Spain
Looking positively divine, if a tad incongruous, the MareNostrum supercomputer nestles snuggly in Barcelona’s Torre Girona chapel.
In God we trust; all others bring data
The MareNostrum’s de-consecrated church building is literally a cool setting for Spain’s largest supercomputer, as the machine’s 10,000 processors enjoy their transparent air-conditioned chamber while students and tourists can still commune with the 19th century building’s fine craftsmanship.
Google Data Center -- Douglas County, Georgia
This is a conference room at Google’s Douglas County, Georgia data center. The wood-heavy designs are meant to celebrate, per Google, “the beauty of Georgia’s great outdoors, with conference rooms named after landmarks like the Chattahoochee River and Chastain Park.”
Lajka Space Station -- Kista, Sweden
Gorgeous in a completely nerded-out way, this data center from Sweden’s Bahnhof ISP is an inflatable space station.
That's a lot of purple
Why? The company’s cheeky website explains, “Who would build this if we didn’t?”
Uspenski Cathedral Data Center -- Helsinki, Finland
You’ll be forgiven for thinking this data center looks like the famous Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki, because that’s what it is. The data center is directly beneath the national landmark in an old bomb shelter, perfectly repurposed.
Cathedral by day
Taking recycling and eco-friendly values to a new level, the heat from the servers in the Uspenski Cathedral is used to warm 500 area homes, and seawater is used for cooling. That’s beautiful every which way you look at it… day or night.
Telecity Condorcet Data Center -- Paris
The Condorcet data center in Paris, France doubles as an arboretum. The plants are being grown to study climate change, and their environment is heated using waste energy from the data center.
ENIAC Data Center -- Philadelphia
You’ve got to hop in the time machine to check this out, but it’s worth the trip. Steampunk before there was steampunk, retro-industrial before there was such a thing, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was the first electronic general-purpose computer and was used to calculate complex ballistic firing tables in WWII as well as work on a feasibility study for the hydrogen bomb. The bad news: It was feasible.
Facebook Data Center -- Prineville, Oregon
Sorry, we had to.
But seriously, what’s not to like? Lovely to look at and energy efficient to boot, Prineville is a prime example of making green while being green.
IO Data Center -- Phoenix, Arizona
The Arizona desert doesn’t exactly scream cool in any sense of the word, but IO has flipped the script with this gorgeous building that was formerly a water bottling plant.
Using sneaky time-shifting cooling, the facility purchases cheaper power at night to run the data chillers and melt the ice during the day for cooling. Cool, dat!
Switch's SuperNap 7 -- Las Vegas
A scalable modular data center technology on steroids, SuperNap 7 in Las Vegas is a humongous data hive the size of 11 football fields. The bold red, white, and blue color scheme makes everything from sever cages to break rooms pop in a trippy facility that serves more than 500 clients and connects with thousands more.
They brag on their data center architecture, engineering, technology, operations mojo and client list, so looking good is just a bonus.
Le Très Grand Centre de Calcul -- Bruyères-le-Châtel, France
Talk about gilding the lily, er, data! Check out this perfectly appointed home for French supercomputer CURIE, a computing beast with 92,000 processing cores designed for civil, scientific, and industrial research. In this case, beauty is more than skin deep.