Construction on Prineville Facebook data center continues with its third massive structure

JASON CHANEY - Construction workers tie rebar prior to pouring concrete flooring inside the building.

The two completed buildings utilized by Prineville’s Facebook data center are difficult to miss.

The massive concrete structures are more than 1,000 feet long and upwards of 50 feet tall.

Yet, Building 3, currently under construction a short distance from Highway 126, is probably the most visible of them all. Cresting over the top of the grade, driving west of out of Prineville, the structure dominates drivers’ view of the landscape.

“I think it is pretty visible,” says Todd Flack, the data center’s site manager. “I have had some folks that said, ‘Hey, I see there’s a lot going on because I drive along that route.’”

Matt Moews, of DPR-Fortis Construction, who serves as the construction manager for the new building, tends to agree.

“I think people see us more,” he remarked. “Before, we were set back in the corner. I don’t think anybody really knew what we were doing out here.”

Work began this past November and in recent weeks, steel erection of the building’s frame has sprung up, juxtaposed against the High Desert backdrop of sage brush and juniper.

Depending on where in the 1,275-foot long building you look, the structure is varying phases of construction. Involved in that work are anywhere from 250 to 350 laborers from companies that include Central Oregon-based Rosendin Electric, Taylor NW, Hooker Creek and Knife River.

“Steel erection starts at the middle of the building in our case, which is the primary networking space, and then we have data suites,” Flack explained. Two of those four suites, at the north end of the building, are already receiving concrete panel walls, while the suites at the south end of the structure still include exposed underground electrical and fiber optic conduit. Steel erection work has only just begun on that portion, the tall cranes having recently been moved to the area.

“The center section is in advanced stage of construction,” Flack goes on to say, with Moews chiming in that cement pours have begun inside the building.

This is the fast part of the construction process, according to Mark Schutz, who works for DPR-Fortis as the project’s superintendent.

“This is where you usually see the biggest bang for your buck,” he said.

But construction, which will not conclude until July 2017, will seemingly slow once work begins on the interior of the building.

“A good 60 to 70 percent of the building is electrical,” Moews said, “and that is all inside.”

Building 3 will serve the same primary functions as the first two data center structures, Flack said.

“You can envision buildings that are a complex mix of a lot of computers as well as networking capacity and storage,” he said. “It is a direct expansion of our existing footprint.”

Once finished, the 487,700 square-foot Building 3 will mark the completion of what Facebook had initially planned when it first purchased the property off of Tom McCall Road.

“There are 7 billion people on the planet, and a billion and a half of them are on Facebook,” Flack said when explaining the need for a third building. “We are planning for the next large chunk of folks who are joining Facebook. Our mission is to connect people and make the world a more connected place. Prineville is a perfect place to start to do that.”

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