SALEM — Winter Street Architects has proven that you don’t need a Boston address to compete in — and win — a nationwide design competition for a giant corporation.
The Salem firm has done just that, winning a competition to design a cutting-edge, highly efficient data center for online retailer eBay near Salt Lake City, Utah. And it’s done that from its headquarters on the top floor of a former department store building on Essex Street — a space that includes a rock climbing wall just behind the reception area.
The firm’s award-winning data center is nearing completion on a reclaimed copper mine in South Jordan, Utah. One of the building’s most interesting features is its use of solid oxide fuel cells that will allow the data center to generate its own “carbon neutral power.” It also utilizes free cooling, meaning there are no mechanical compressors or refrigerators to cool the building; instead, the data center is cooled by water and air and by leveraging the dry desert climate.
The local firm of 20 employees had to win a competition held by eBay to design the data center. In 2011, it beat out a list of large international design firms, said Mark Meche, a co-founder and senior principal of Winter Street Architects. The data center’s design was a team effort of the firm’s architects, as well as specialists including Lexington-based AHA Consulting Engineers.
The Uptime Institute recently recognized the project for Design Innovation in a Green Enterprise IT project, with Enterprise IT referring to the massive computer infrastructure needed to run huge high-tech businesses such as eBay.
The data center turned out to be the largest assignment to date in Winter Street’s portfolio, and also the second data center the firm has designed for eBay.