Georgia Tech’s Planned Data Center Has Futuristic Design

Georgia Tech will occupy half of the new Coda building, rendering seen here, and it will house a high performance computing center.
Credit Courtesy of John Portman & Associates 2016
Audio version of this story here.

An interview with Midtown Alliance CEO Kevin Green at the Coda groundbreaking ceremony

Georgia Tech’s College of Computing Senior Associate Dean Charles Isbell says we’re already looking at the future.

Construction has begun for the new Coda building, which will include the school’s High Performance Computing center, in Midtown Atlanta.

“We’re trying to construct a building that is as vertical as it is horizontal so that people are constantly moving up and down as well as left and right to interact with others,” Isbell said.  

Faster Computing

Georgia Tech’s real estate director Tony Zivalich said the new data center will make research faster and more secure. 

“The idea is that the distance between your data and your computer are very small, and so therefore your processing can be speeded up dramatically,” Zivalich said. “The other is security, because of the proximity of the office to the data center, it actually can be directly connected without going over the Internet.”

New Technology

Kevin Green, CEO of the business group Midtown Alliance, said there’s also a large public plaza with an interactive media wall at the entry level of the building. He said it’s “really going to set the bar for how leading research institutions and the private sector bring commercialization and collaboration to a new level.”

“You’ve got these intentional collaboration spaces both horizontally, but then you’ve also got this vertical core with these winding staircases. So you can not only collaborate with people on your floor, but very easily integrate with people on adjoining floors,” Green said. “We’ve not seen anything like this in the United States and really I think it’s going to be unique in the world.”  

The building will also implement new technology such as an elevator system with two cars arranged on top of each other in one shaft, which can take two passengers to two different floors at the same time and intelligent windows that adjust to the weather outside.

Midtown Traffic

Green said Coda is the 22nd project under construction in a one square mile area.

“Clearly, Midtown is going to change,” Green said. “The good news is that everything is within a six-mile walk of rail transit and you’re in a walkable environment. And most importantly you’re in a street grid, so you’re able to disperse traffic. But our hope is, that increasingly as our city develops, there are viable alternatives to not getting into an automobile to get around.” 

Coda is expected to bring 2,400 jobs onsite once completed. That’s in addition to the 10,000 jobs announced from other projects in the area in the past 18 months.  

Idea Generation

John Portman & Associates lead designer Luca Maffey said he researched when college students ate and slept as part of the design process to promote interaction and to give it less of a corporate feel. He said the name of the building is a musical reference.  

“Once you get to that coda sign in the symphony, from that point, it jumps to another section of the music sheet,” Maffey said. “So basically you know you develop an idea, and then you hit this coda sign and it immediately drops you into another part of the music sheet, so it just develops another idea and that’s the feeling we want to give to this building.”

Maffey said the building is expected to be complete in early 2019.

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