Photo: © Marilyn Scavo

JTM Construction Group Inc. meets the challenges of the Miami MI1 data center upgrade

When JTM Construction Group Inc.’s client purchased a massive-but-underutilized data center in downtown Miami, they intended to upgrade it to the central hub of one of the world’s largest internet exchange points between Central/South America, the Northeast U.S. and Europe.

They tapped JTM CGI to handle the expansion and facilities upgrade with full confidence in their ability to coordinate the complicated logistics in an occupied data center as a repeat mission critical customer.

Photos: © McShane Fleming Studios, Marilyn Scavo

Ensuring data reliability

The most important element of this project was data reliability and protection since the client’s service delivery and reputation depend on it, says Doug Consigny, JTM CGI senior project manager.

In addition to global data traffic via sub-sea cables, MI1 hosts more than 600 co-located enterprises and a federal government facility on the third floor accessed only with a top security clearance. “Data integrity is a must for this facility’s operation,” he adds.

“MEPS equipment backup and redundancy was essential, and that meant a huge amount of crane picks to get all the power and cooling equipment to the roof of the six-story building,” he says. To deliver 2N cooling and N+1 power/UPS redundancy, the general contractor installed three 3MW power blocks, a MV switchgear lineup, 14 high-efficiency rooftop chillers, and massive piping and infrastructure.

Photos: © Marilyn Scavo

Upgrading systems

The team completely replaced the legacy Building Management Systems and security platforms so they meet best-in-practice criteria for an operational multi-tenant data center facility. “In an era of sophisticated hacking and data theft, the client wanted to take every precaution to protect their corporate and government clients and their operations,” says Consigny.

Some of the features included proximity access card, biometric access control, multilevel access control, intrusion detection and CCTV surveillance with 30-day video retention.

Photos: © Marilyn Scavo

Building productive spaces

This iconic building on the Miami skyline adds to the city’s architectural legacy with red-trimmed stark white exterior and white mushrooms on the roof. The vibrant exterior design was reflected inside for the renovation, Consigny explains. The new high-tech spaces feature colored accents, specialty lighting effects, gloss finishes and large digital screens in meeting spaces.

The design highlight for Consigny is the lighted world map in the ceiling of the new curved customer lobby.

On the construction side, the most challenging interior element was enlarging the first floor building footprint to match the upper floor footprint, says Consigny. The structural expansion accommodated a new conference center and corporate lounge. JTM CGI also built a new front façade, entrance and lobby; corporate offices and suites; and 1,300 additional colocation cabinets and customer amenities.

Photo: © Marilyn Scavo

Working in an occupied data center

Working in an occupied space is extremely tricky in a data center that needs to stay operational for colocation clients. Consigny says that meant careful phasing and logistics, plus regular coordination and communication with the client and their building occupants. As a result, there were no service interruptions for colocation customers or facilities staff.

Photo: © McShane Fleming Studios

Requirements of an urban setting

With a downtown Miami location, the roads surrounding the facility needed to remain open to support traffic to the business center, tourism destinations and sports arenas, and that made rigging a challenge, says Consigny.

“Closing routes to accommodate equipment deliveries, construction and crane lifts required long-term advance planning and coordination with city authorities to minimize the impact on neighboring businesses and city traffic movement,” he adds.

Additional work with city planners, as well as landscape architects, was needed to ensure the new landscaping around the facility with paver sidewalk hardscape matched the development master plan for the surrounding area.

To ensure good community relations, JTM Construction Group Inc. installed state-of-the-art sound attenuation during construction that minimizes the facility’s ambient sound for neighborhood residents.

“This was a highly technical project with extreme data sensitivity and security challenges. We were happy to complete this critical infrastructure on time and on budget for our client,” says Consigny.

The data center project earned industry recognition by winning the Renovation Award of Merit in the 2020 Best Projects competition by Engineering News-Record Southeast.