Clayco Completes State-Of-The-Art Facility To House One Of The World’s Fastest Computers - Clayco

Clayco Completes State-Of-The-Art Facility To House One Of The World’s Fastest Computers

St. Louis, MO (November 30, 2010) 

Clayco Inc. has announced the completion of a new 88,000-square-foot computing facility for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). The facility was built to achieve LEED Gold certification with the United States Green Building Council.

A unique, ground-breaking facility, the National Petascale Computing Facility (NPCF), will accommodate one of the fastest computers in the world. Known as Blue Waters, the supercomputer will be able to perform quadrillions of calculations every second. Its enhanced capabilities combined with innovative data center design and construction will allow scientists and researchers nationwide to make extraordinary predictions and breakthroughs in scientific knowledge.

Recognized with the CMAA Project Achievement Award for excellent construction management techniques, Clayco generated innovative solutions for a variety of challenges involved in housing high-performance supercomputers. 

Located in Champaign, the NPCF provides office space for more than 40 staff members and includes a command center and system administration center. It also features a 20,000-square-foot machine room with a six-foot raised floor large enough to house Blue Waters and other systems, as well as providing space for future growth of the technology infrastructure. The project included requirements for 24 MW electrical capacity and 5,400 tons of water cooling capacity from the University’s chilled water distribution loop. 

“Throughout design and construction of the National Petascale Computing Facility, we thought beyond just the practical requirements of the scientists. We knew building an innovative, sustainable structure was going to be a significant differentiator between NPCF and other data center operations. Researchers want to work and collaborate in buildings that make a difference – just as their research makes a difference,” said Scott Murnick, project director at Clayco and on the National Petascale Computing Facility project.

Energy efficiency and sustainability were pivotal to the design and construction of the LEED Gold registered project. Three on-site cooling towers provide water that has been naturally chilled by the cold outdoor air, rather than electrically cooled. This green innovation increases energy efficiency. Since Illinois is ranked among the top states in tornado frequency, the building is also designed to withstand an F3 tornado and winds of 165 mph.

“We are excited to have played an integral role in the conception and creation of such a significant national resource. We anticipate that the computer architecture and NPCF infrastructure will enable unprecedented research and discovery for many years,” continued Murnick.

Joining Clayco and construction partner New York-based Nova on the project, the construction team included EYP Mission Critical Facilities as architect, M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates as interior designer, Terra Technologies, Inc. as civil engineer, Rubinos and Mesia Engineers, Inc. as structural engineer, and Schirmer Engineering Corporation as mechanical engineer.

Established in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the oldest and largest campus in the University of Illinois system. As a coeducational public research university, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a national and global leader in education and research. For more information about the University of Illinois, visit the institution’s Web site at