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University of Glasgow ‘black box’ data centre goes in for planning

April 21 2017

University of Glasgow ‘black box’ data centre goes in for planning
The University of Glasgow is pushing forward plans to erect a two-storey data centre to designs by HLM architects and RankinFraser landscape architects.

Required to upgrade the university’s IT infrastructure the Kelvin Data Centre will occupy a constricted site off University Gardens Lane. Clad in dark rainscreen cladding above a brick plinth the ‘black box’ will be accessed by a single storey entrance annex. A separate generator will be screened by timber batons.

In their design statement HLM observed: “Due to the site constraints and design limi¬tations, the data centre essentially becomes nothing more than a “black box” for storing data. The design does not attempt to disguise this fact, but tries to improve what would otherwise be a blank box.

“The ‘black box’ is articulated to some degree through the diminishing arrangement of the vertical cladding panels, and the addition of a con¬tinuous horizontal louvre which wraps around the building, and which is required as part of the mechanical system. The cladding treatment and the brick base are intended to provide some subtle variation within the blank façade of the data halls.”

The University of Glasgow is currently progressing a £1bn campus masterplan.


D to the R
#1 Posted by D to the R on 21 Apr 2017 at 13:45 PM
Surely a misprint UR? You suggest this was accompanied by a 'design statement'?
#2 Posted by Donovan on 24 Apr 2017 at 09:50 AM
@Urbanrealm - is it not about time that you guys start trying to have a bit more editorial control over what projects you feature on your site? Together with other articles, such as the HFM Starbucks, the general standard of projects has lowered significantly (and these are unbuilt projects to boot) and does not do Scottish design much favours...
#3 Posted by urbanrealm on 24 Apr 2017 at 11:14 AM
Hi Donovan - We don’t as a rule edit based on perceived architectural quality but strive to cover all development – so long as it’s architect designed. Obviously we’d rather everything was a Burrell or a School of Art but we do cover those too!
#4 Posted by Inahuf on 24 Apr 2017 at 11:46 AM
#2, sadly too many of Scotland's architects let down Scottish design. I now there's always a project or two that doesn't reach the standard a practice hopes for due to client or constraints or something, and you don't publish it, but it says something that practices are seeking publicity on what - a best - is mediocre. Where's the pride, and the shame, gone?
How's anyone who knows nothing much about the profession going to value what we can bring when what they see us holding up adds very little value to the place or the people using it... sad now...
#5 Posted by GlasgowSmilesBetter on 24 Apr 2017 at 13:36 PM
Design aside.....I would Imagine that the University of Glasgow their students and staff would see the addition of a new data center significantly 'adding value' to their studies and working days over what I can only imagine currently not fit for purpose and outdated....

As designers, we should recognise that some buildings do need to be functional because of their use, the constraints surrounding them etc....after all it can't all be red sofas and glitter balls :-)
#6 Posted by Inahuf on 24 Apr 2017 at 17:03 PM
#5, red sofas and glitter balls is not design, and the functionality argument is the same one they used to use for why hospitals 'had to be' unpleasant...
Every project has its functional constraints, but if a good designer can make a load of industrial workshops interesting (Clydebank), why can't a data storage shed offer more too?
#7 Posted by HappyasLarry on 25 Apr 2017 at 08:12 AM
I agree with glasgowsmilesbetter.....given the clear need for a facility such as this....I'm sure staff and students alike would believe that this 'Black Box' arrives 'Ride on time'.....
Boaby Wan
#8 Posted by Boaby Wan on 25 Apr 2017 at 08:20 AM
Be interesting to know what the client brief was for this and what the fee was for "design"
It's a funny one to publish imo, I'm sure there's lots of firms with things on their books that you'd prefer to remove the title block from (can think of a few that I've worked on) but it's not really the job of UR to curate these things, otherwise you'd end up with the same usual suspects that are spending time/money on pr rather than getting a broad view of news
#9 Posted by Inahuf on 25 Apr 2017 at 10:15 AM
#8, the fees argument again - so we only have a duty to the wider public if paid to care about the impact of our work.... If that's the case we should resign the pretence of being a profession - we're just hired hands...
BTW, the discussion started talking about the drive through Starbucks too, not just a data box.
boaby wan
#10 Posted by boaby wan on 25 Apr 2017 at 11:37 AM
If you only have a day or half a day to design then the outcome isn't going to be well considered - we are here to earn money, sometimes with jobs you put in a lot more time than you can ever get paid for, no other profession does this. If you think working for nothing is a good thing for the profession you are absolutely delusional.
We have a duty to the wider public and to the client (and to our families) clearly this building has to be functional and has a tight budget, there's no point in designing buildings that your client doesn't want or that can't be delivered on budget, some times you have to work really hard to get things on budget or convince a client to go down a certain route - I would suggest that a professional client such as a University will know exactly how to procure the building they need for the cost they want.
This job is much more about picking your battles and understanding what the client needs at the end of the day. It's much better to have a body of built work which delivers for the clients procuring it, than a lot of aspiration pre-planning drawings which are not deliverable under any guise.
Yes this building could be "better" but we have no idea what the constraints of the design team are.
(I'm still of the view that this should have been self-curated by whoever submitted it to the website right enough)
Carping from the sidelines
#11 Posted by Carping from the sidelines on 25 Apr 2017 at 13:07 PM
#10 - Everything Boaby sez.
#9 - 'profession'? - ere, wots that then?
'we're just hired hands' and? So was

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