Pittock Block carrier hotel and data centre sells for $326mn
The property, located in Portland’s West End, is a 302,262 sq ft property first built as office space and a steam power plant in the 1800s. Today, the building houses office space, a data centre, telecommunications infrastructure equipment and retail space. Most importantly, the Pittock Block is home to one of the two largest internet exchanges in the Pacific Northwest.
Alco Investment has owned the Pittock BLock since 1986, when it purchased the building for conversion into a telephone switching hub, which later attracted internet service providers (ISPs) and facilitated its development into a data centre carrier hotel.
“About the same time, the Internet became more widely adopted and ISPs that were also interested in gaining access to the neutral telecommunications infrastructure built data centres in the building,” commented Doug Rosen, Chief Investment Officer, Alco. “As a result, we oversaw a major retrofit of the building in 1999 that set the building up to take on these types of tenants.”
JLL oversaw the sale, procuring a buyer in the form of a joint venture between investment manager Harrison Street and 1547 Critical Systems Realty. The price tag represents the single largest asset sale in Oregon since 2015.
The Pittock Block is also located near Hillsboro - the location of Intel’s headquarters, and a thriving secondary data centre market, with major investments from QTS, Facebook and NTT, all of which have multi-billion dollar, 100 MW+ projects ongoing in the area.
Michael Hochanadel, managing director at Harrison Street, said: “Pittock Block represents a rare opportunity to acquire an established interconnection building with significant opportunity for growth.
“The Pacific Northwest continues to be a top destination for end users seeking highly connected data centre capacity given its robust telecommunication infrastructure that provides low latency to key high growth markets including Asia. We are excited to expand our partnership with 1547 and acquire a highly strategic facility that will enhance our ability to deliver robust connectivity solutions. We look forward to continuing to identify and invest in critical digital assets.”
NUS and NTU launch cooling project for tropical data centres
The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have announced a project in an attempt to source and develop new cooling solutions for data centres located in tropical areas. According to the companies, the programme costs S$23mn (US$17.1mn) and plans to research, build and test innovative and sustainable cooling solutions.
The Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT)
The NUS and NTU say that the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) will act as a research point and innovation hub for the project. Facebook, along with the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), is also involved, providing funding for the programme. Further support from other partners includes the Infocomm Media Development Authority, Ascenix, CoolestDC Keppel Data Centres, Red Dot Analytics, and New Media Express.
Commenting on working with the companies, Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure, Alex Johnson, said: “We are excited about the opportunity to partner NUS, NTU, Keppel Data Centres and the CoolestSG community to develop innovative solutions that reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of the average data centre, particularly those located in tropical areas like Singapore”.
The NTU and NUS highlight that Singapore houses 60% of Southeast Asia’s total data centre market, and aims to supply 12% of the country’s total energy needs by 2030. This results in the need to reduce the carbon footprints and power consumption of data centres, meaning more innovative cooling solutions are required, the NTU and NUS said.
Professor Chen Thuan, Deputy President of Research & Technology at the NUS, said: “Data centres are a critical enabler of the digital economy, but the average data centre can exert a significant environmental burden. Aligned with RIE 2025, sustainability is a key research focus of NUS, and our researchers have deep expertise in developing integrated solutions for tropical, urban and Asian settings”.
How will the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) help to provide cooling solutions?
According to the NUS and NTU, the STDCT will be built using equipment such as a novel desiccant-coated heat exchanger and a StatePoint Liquid Cooling System (SPLC) designed by both Nortek Air Solutions and Facebook. The institutions also say they will adopt chip-level hybrid cooling to ensure servers remain cool.
Furthermore, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will aim to manage the “smart operations” of the technologies so that the data centres are water and power efficient, as well as able to preserve equipment and servers.
The NTU and NSU said in a joint statement the combination of the cooling technologies could reduce energy consumption “significantly” and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25%, compared to traditional air-cooled data centres. If adopted industry-wide across the entire tropical region, the energy usage of the data centre industry could potentially be lowered by at least 40%”, the companies said.
The STDCT is expected to be operational by 1 October 2021.