Massive data centre to be built inside Vancouver's Harbour Centre

Sep 26 2022, 6:44 pm

A significant portion of the heritage section of Harbour Centre in downtown Vancouver will be converted into a major state-of-the-art data centre.

It will be the latest use for the 1907-built Spencer Building, which was integrated with the Harbour Centre office and observation tower upon its completion in 1977. The heritage building forms the eastern side of the complex, fronting Richards Street.

The City of Vancouver recently approved Polaris Realty’s development permit for “Spencer Building Carrier Hotel,” which entails a 43,000 sq ft data centre over multiple floors, along with supporting infrastructure such as 10 MW of critical power, a brand new 25 kV primary electrical service with the capability to expand to over 20 MW, and the ability to support up to 20 kW per cabinet.

It will be the primary Canadian landing point for the brand new Cascadia fibre artery connecting Vancouver and Seattle. The data centre is specifically intended to serve the cloud and connectivity services of companies looking to connect to Vancouver’s communication networks and internet service providers.

This also involves installing new equipment on the rooftop of the historic building, creating private entry manholes, and over 20,000 connected fibres.

spencer building carrier hotel data centre harbour centre vancouver

Spencer Building at Harbour Centre in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)

spencer building carrier hotel data centre harbour centre vancouver

Spencer Building at Harbour Centre in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)

data centre

Manholes installed for Spencer Building Carrier Hotel, May 2022. (Polaris Realty)

“Our facility will provide access to all the carriers, network operators, cloud onramps, and other service providers in order to do business on the West Coast and beyond,” said Chris Jones, the director of data centre infrastructure and operations for the project.

“The Spencer Building is a symbol of the city itself — it’s part of an exciting new technological future, but we’re also preserving the rich history of the previous generation that made the city what it is today.”

The data centre is expected to reach completion in 2023.

The Spencer Building was previously home to the major department stores of Spencer, Eaton’s, and then Sears, which left the premises in 1987. Simon Fraser University opened a satellite campus within Harbour Centre in 1989.

Since 2016, Polaris Realty has been conducting rehabilitation work on the heritage features of the Spencer Building, including its gothic revival and art deco exterior.

spencer building sears

Sears department store exterior signage on the Spencer Building at Harbour Centre in downtown Vancouver, captured in 1985. (City of Vancouver Archives)

spencer building carrier hotel data centre harbour centre vancouver

Scars of the previous Sears exterior signage on the Spencer Building of Harbour Centre in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)

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