CUNY Data Center, Relocation and Build-Out

Owner: CUNY

Architect: NK Architects

Location: New York, NY

Size: 15,000 SF

Construction Cost: $20 Million

Construction Completion: 2018

CUNY provides a high caliber, competitive and remarkably affordable college education. The CUNY Data Center project was a ‘behind the scenes’ project critical to maintaining the growth and high-quality technological capabilities of CUNY and its prominent university system.  With the current data center being old and cramped, CUNY required a larger physical plant to support the University’s future critical load. After an evaluation, it was decided to consolidate their data centers in a more appropriate space at 395 Hudson Street.

JFK&M would assist CUNY in building an efficient, secure, and SAS 70 compliant ‘State of the Art’ data center designed for optimal use and expansion. Requiring the relocation of equipment, JFK&M conducted surveys on the existing equipment at 555 57th street. Following, the team then addressed several complexities for the new MEP/FP systems at the new site to finalize the new design which included:

  • Building a new data center on an upper floor of an existing operating building
  • Retrofitting as possible existing infrastructure/equipment from previous data center into the new location
  • Overcoming height restrictions for overhead cabling to the racks
  • Providing a additional Con Edison service to the building, with upgrade of the existing service by locating the shaft space to support the new line
  • Retro-fitting existing parallel generators for simultaneous operation and 2N redundancy, inclusive of an automatic transfer switch for emergency power
  • Establishing an efficient and sustainable designed HVAC system
  • Providing an efficient, properly sized, and reliable UPS system
  • Conducting a new CFD analysis confirming maintenance of adequate temperature with lower raised floor height

While LEED certification was not required, sustainable and energy efficient systems with respect to workload placement, platform selection and utilization, storage utilization, heat management, power consumption and building facilities were considered and designed.

Numerous recommendations for upgrades were made regarding the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing, fire protection and fire alarm systems.  Electrical upgrades included changes to the existing step up transformers, installing remote radiators to allow for the simultaneous operation of two existing 800KW emergency generators, replacing 2 existing 375 KVA UPS systems and batteries with two new (A – B configuration) modules, providing redundant PDU’s from different UPS sources, adding lighting protection, modifying the electrical distribution system and electrical branch circuits and IT cables. The existing Fire Alarm system was completely upgraded to the latest 2008 Code including ADA requirements and filed and approved in January 2019.

JFK&M evaluated several different means to cool the data center.  A hybrid cooling system, which sprays water on the coils creating evaporative cooling to maintain appropriate cooling levels, was considered.  JFK&M also evaluated a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system, which uses refrigerant as the cooling and heating medium. A computational fluid dynamics or CFD analysis was performed to simulate and evaluate two cooling infrastructure layouts and compare their impact on key cooling performance indicators for the data center. JFK&M completely revised the HVAC system to a more efficient & sustainable design providing for redundancy and ensuring the reliability of the air distribution.

CUNY had been giving consideration to consolidating all the data centers for period of time.  Changes throughout the project added time and cost, but the team was able to respond and implement scope changes quickly. The project was completed in two years and at a cost $20 million.