04 January 2012

the architecture of data space

A Level 3 Data Center in Emeryville, California. Photo by Alan Wiig, January 2010. Level 3 holds an account with Netflix to transmit streaming video (source), so chances are reasonably good that if you watch a movie through Netflix in the Oakland/Berkeley area, the digital content is passing through this building. If there is any cohesion to the aesthetic design of data centers, it is a uniform blandness and the lack of signage. [continued at bottom of post]

Recently the architecture and design magazine Domus, whose RSS feed is full of their articles as well as other interesting information, posted that the architecture journal CLOG has an open submission into 'data space'. I am happy to see more venues exploring the relationship between space--and architecture--and the immaterials of digital information and communication.

Here is CLOG's call for submissions, which is due 9 January 2012:

Over 2 billion people across the world use the Internet regularly. Every second, 2.8 million emails are sent, 30,000 phrases are Googled, and 600 updates are tweeted. While being absorbed into this virtual world, most rarely consider the physical ramifications of this data. All over the world, data centers are becoming integral components of our 21st century infrastructure. These facilities can range from small portable modules to massive warehouses full of servers, from sleek new constructions to reuse of existing infrastructures. What is the significance of this bridge between the virtual and the physical? How does this new typology affect the discourse of architecture and the shaping of our built environment? As cloud storage and global internet usage increase, it's finally time to talk about the physical space of data.
I am looking forward to seeing how this issue of CLOG comes together.

The small 'Level 3' on the No Trespassing sign was the main signifier I could find that this was the data center. I did not want to risk trespass to look at the sign on the door. Regardless, there was nothing prominent indicating that this building housed a Level 3 data center. Photo by Alan Wiig, January 2010.


  1. Hi Alan - Very much enjoy the site. You might enjoy this article I wrote for ICON about datacenters and architecture: http://booktwo.org/notebook/secret-servers/ - we have similar interests...

    1. Dear James,
      Thanks for the comment, and yes, I read and enjoyed your article a few months ago. Thanks too for posting it on your website - I looked both in Philadelphia and New York City for that issue of ICON but could not find it anywhere. The only place in the US I have found ICON is, oddly, in Davis, California at a magazine store called Newsbeat.