Developer Digital Realty has come to the community with a revised plan for a data center at 321 E. 21st. Located at the southwest corner of E. 21st St and S. Calumet Ave, the project will replace a currently vacant site next to the developer’s already operational data center at 350 E. Cermak.
Originally approved back in 2014 as part of a larger Planned Development, the project is going back through the approval process because the developer did not build the project before the PD approval expired.
Designed by Archideas, the new scheme scales back from the original approval which would’ve allowed for a 600,000 square foot building that would have stood 310 feet tall. The new design calls for a 271-foot-tall structure that reduces the FAR from 10.0 down to 7.0.
The massing of the building has been setback from E. 21st St by 16 feet to create relief and add more landscaping. The facade design is contemporary but recognizes the historic masonry buildings nearby with a warmer material palette. Predominantly made of precast, brick inserts have been incorporated into the panels for texture and scale, with glass curtain wall panels set in between the precast columns. Metal paneling at the third floor relates to the adjacent hotel and sets the pedestrian scale of the building. The structure’s angled bracing sits behind the glass facade on the east side before being exposed at the ground floor.
Tenants and employees will enter the building from E. 21st St with the ground floor hosting mechanical space, loading docks, and office space. The building’s second floor will host further office space, with the upper floors home to data suites. Spanning levels three through nine, the space will include computer rooms, server racks, electrical equipment, and cooling equipment. A proposed bridge will link to the existing data center at 350 E. Cermak.
Since data centers use a lot of power, the developer has committed to using renewable energy to power the building 100% carbon-free.
With the project going through DPD’s approval process, the developer expects to receive approvals from the Chicago Plan Commission, Committee on Zoning, and City Council this summer. Once approved, it will take 15 months to complete the design and pull permits, with construction set to begin in Fall 2024. With a 20-month construction timeline, the data center is expected to come online in Summer 2026.