NCSA Petascale Computing Facility – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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This state-of-the-art computing facility provides a secure and efficient operating environment for the fastest computer in the world, known as Blue Waters.

Clayco served as construction manager for this 90,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art computing facility, which provides a secure and efficient operating environment for the fastest computer in the world, known as Blue Waters. The supercomputer has the processing power of the current top 500 supercomputers in the world and can perform quadrillions of calculations every second.

The Petascale Computing Facility accommodates 10,000 square feet of office space for more than 50 staff members and includes command and system administration centers. 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 provide space for future growth of the technology infrastructure.

The project included requirements for 24 MW electrical capacity and 5,400 tons of cooling capacity from the university’s chilled water distribution loop. Since Illinois is ranked among the top states in tornado frequency, the building was designed to withstand an F3 tornado and winds of up to 165 mph. In pursuit of LEED Gold registration, three on-site cooling towers were built to provide water that is naturally chilled by cold outdoor air rather than electrically cooled. The installation of an Uninterruptible Power Supply was eliminated to minimize floor space required and increase energy efficiency.

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, provides powerful computers and expert support. This computing power enables scientists at universities and research centers across the United States to make extraordinary leaps in knowledge and scientific discovery, predicting the structure of complex biological systems, designing new materials atom by atom, predicting climate and ecosystem changes, and improving intricate engineering systems such as chemical plants and airplanes.


University of Illinois


Champaign, Illinois


90,000 SF building / 20,000 SF data center


  • Architect: Gensler
  • Project Value: $45 Million


LEED NC V2.2 Gold Certified | Three on-site cooling towers & Increased power efficiency

Construction Management Association of America – 2010 Project Achievement Award Buildings Project New Construction and Constructed Value Less Than $50 Million

Midwest Construction – Best of 2010 Awards Higher Education/Research Award of Merit