Data Center Design in Mexico City

By: Michael Malone, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB, Senior Architect

Integrated Design Group has designed data centers across the country and overseas; having completed projects in 22 states in the U.S. and throughout the Middle East.

Now, we are also performing master planning and design services for a new collection of data centers that will open in multiple phases in an expanding warehouse district in Mexico City. Working in Mexico has presented our design team with a new set of challenges and an equal share of interesting benefits.

¿Habla español? Our design team is not fluent in Spanish. Fortunately, our counterparts in Mexico City are excellent translators. Although the word for ‘roof’ and ‘ceiling’ appeared to be used interchangeably; this led to some confusion!  

Some additional differences we encountered:

Units: No more dividing that pesky inch into eight parts! Mexico uses the metric system. We use Revit in metric format and it is working very well for us. We took advantage of the large number of readily available metric families. We are using several key American products in the project and are pleased to report that using imperial products in the metric format in Revit was not an obstacle.   

Products: Many of the products for this project are manufactured in the U.S., so instead of a standard 600 x 600mm floor tile, we are using an American 2’ x 2’ tile, which translates to a 608mm x 608mm size. The beauty of the metric system began to erode when we decided to avoid cutting floor tiles and sized some of our spaces based on floor tile dimensions. This led to having wall setting out in some places to the nearest mm, much tighter than we would normally expect.

Altitude: Mexico City lies 8,000 feet above sea level. This means tough breathing for the team members and big equipment for the project. Electrical gear, such as generators, is derated 25% due to the lack of air mass cooling the equipment. Bigger equipment causes space constraints, which, in turn, cause higher budgets. Equipment is oversized relative to the IT loads, and oversized cooling equipment is then needed to handle the oversized electrical gear. As you can see, altitude ends up playing a major role in the design process. 

Designing data centers in Mexico has been an eye opening experience for our architects and engineers. Challenging our team with new design standards and guidelines has led to a better understanding of design overall.  

Progress Photos:

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