DataGryd’s efforts are transforming a historic Manhattan building into a future-proof, world-class, high-tech data center.

By Chris Petersen

There may be no better metaphor for the progress communication technology has made over the last century than what is going on at 60 Hudson Street in Manhattan. The former headquarters of Western Union is undergoing a massive $100 million transformation into a modern data network hub courtesy of DataGryd Data Centers. The leader in data center development and operations in Manhattan, DataGryd is transforming the Art Deco building into the most sophisticated and flexible data center in Manhattan, and founder and CEO Peter Feldman says the end-result should be a major step forward for the company and telecommunications on the island as a whole.

DataGryd was founded in 2011, when it leased four floors at 60 Hudson Street and began upgrading those floors to accommodate the infrastructure needed to host data centers for customers. Today, the company occupies space on over nine floors of the building, and the company’s latest upgrade of the building is its most ambitious to date.

DataGryd stands apart in the New York City market because it offers the largest available contiguous data center “white space” and power of any operator in Manhattan, according to Feldman. He says the energy efficiency DataGryd offers through its unique MicroGryd shell creates significant savings in terms of operating expenses, as well. In the future, the MicroGryd system will combine cooling, heating and power in a natural-gas-powered system designed under strict EPA and U.S. Department of Energy guidelines, allowing for a major reduction in overall power consumption.

‘Ship in a Bottle’

The location of 60 Hudson Street puts it in prime position to deploy space the spectrum of data center users DataGryd serves, but Feldman says the state of the building before the company started its upgrade combined with the size and sophistication of the equipment needed for a modern data center meant the company had its work cut out for it at the onset. “This is a very highly connected property for networks, so it’s just an engineering and construction challenge,” he says. “If they didn’t have the urban, trade union and cost experience, a lot of people have shied away from it.”

Built more than 85 years ago, the building used to house almost all undersea telegraph connections from Europe to the United States, which meant more than 70 million feet of wire and 30 miles of conduits made up the information technology infrastructure. Although that was state-of-the-art at the time, times have changed, and today’s modern technology infrastructure requires equipment the building’s original architects could not have possibly imagined.DataGryd box

With the necessity of installing generators and transformers weighing up to 50,000 pounds, shoring up the building’s columns and floors became essential. Additionally, the building’s historic status and limited outdoor space created logistical challenges when it came to delivering and installing those key pieces of heavy equipment. “It’s a landmark building, so it’s like a ship in a bottle,” Feldman says.

In many cases, the only way to get equipment into the building was to cut holes in the roof or the façade, which required DataGryd and the project team to carefully catalog each element of the building being removed, down to the original brick. The project team needed to document which sections it removed and preserve the original bricks and windows wherever possible to maintain the building’s historic status.

Among the large-scale systems being installed in the building are substations and equipment that will provide up to 18 megawatts of power to the data center’s critical systems, as well as the necessary backup systems. Once the data center is full leased, Feldman adds, plans call for the installation of a 4.5-megawatt cogeneration plant and a 6,000-ton cooling tower system located on the building’s top floors.

Fitting all of the essential equipment into this “ship in a bottle” configuration has required DataGryd to think creatively about its solutions. Feldman says the company has had to look outside of its normal data center toolbox of power and cooling solutions to make its new data center space work. The MicroGryd system has been a significant factor in making everything come together, he says, because the medium–voltage, shared infrastructure of the system means it can operate with greater efficiency and reduce the need for equipment. The equipment being utilized in the data center also is utility-grade in many cases. Feldman says that even though this type of equipment is larger, it requires fewer units and therefore provides DataGryd with fewer potential points of failure for even greater efficiency.

Feldman says the configuration of the data center not only provides DataGryd with greater efficiency for the present, but also greater flexibility for the future. The design of the data center features multiple areas where upgrades can be made easily, making it easier for the company to meet clients’ demands as those demands grow. “We’re able to provide the space, power and cooling in an efficient way, but also in an extremely reliable way, so the growing IT demands of future products that come out – we’ll be able to serve them,” Feldman says.

Advanced Technology

With more than 100 years of combined experience in real estate and data centers, DataGryd boasts more expertise than virtually any data center developer or operator in the New York City market. Before launching DataGryd, Feldman held executive positions at many successful data center startups, including TelX, a national leader in data center colocation services, now part of Digital Realty Trust. He also has experience dealing in wireless and optical network engineering for rural broadband and wireless network infrastructure.

The first phase of the company’s latest upgrade is complete and fully leased, Feldman says, and the first components of the next phase are underway. Feldman says DataGryd expects to have everything leased within 36 months, including the company’s new MegaSuite, which features 100,000 square feet of support infrastructure. Feldman says the MegaSuite should be online before July, as well as new cloud Data Center as a Service (DCaaS) product as part of the company’s Data Cloud Ecology (trademark to Datagryd) product will be launched as part of the second phase, as well.

From telegraph cable to the most advanced data solutions on the market, DataGryd’s transformation of a historic Manhattan landmark is almost complete. Although the march of technology means the work will never be fully done, Feldman says DataGryd’s new data center will ensure that the company can keep up with the changes and continue to provide its clients with the solutions they need in today’s fast-paced world.

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