Current Construction Projects

Core Research Computing Facility

What are we doing?

On behalf of our research community, Columbia University Facilities is about to commence construction to create a Shared Research Computing Facility. As researchers from many disciplines seek to exploit computing - particularly energy-consuming High Performance Computing (HPC) clusters - the infrastructure requirements are increasingly burdensome. While some researchers both need and can afford exclusive systems, for many, sharing the costs can be very cost-efficient. A pilot HPC shared cluster between PIs from Astronomy and Statistics proved so successful that it has doubled in size and expanded its membership. A proposal was submitted to the NSF MRI program this year led by Kathryn Johnston for a 2016 compute core HPC that would serve the laboratories of 50 PIs if awarded. Such substantial systems require space and power that can be burdensome for PIs and Chairs. In April of 2010, the NIH awarded Columbia University nearly $10M to create a Shared Research Computing Facility by enhancing the energy to the current main administrative data center.

Through some ingenious planning, the effort will also create additional space in the Data Center by substituting a large unit Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) for all the individual UPS's now taking up space in each rack. The UPS will sit in a purpose-built box that will hang from the underside of the plaza bridge that crosses the Grove between the gym, Uris Hall and Havemeyer Extension.

When will the work start?

It is anticipated that construction will start in early March 2012 and last for approximately 12 months. The schedule includes several "No Work" days to accommodate major University activities such as exams and commencement. This document will be shared with Chairs and Facility Managers to aid in planning.  

What can we expect?

The construction project will follow the Department of Buildings (DOB) guidelines for construction activity. The DOB normal construction hours are 7am to 6pm, Monday through Friday and any construction activity beyond those limits will require "after work hours" approvals from DOB.

In general, there will be construction noise from the demolition and alteration activity during the work hours for the duration of construction, vehicular noise from the removal of debris and the deliveries of material to the job site, and noise for concrete removal at column locations and ground drilling for new foundation piles. 

What is the construction schedule?

The following is a general outline of the major construction activities:

  • Foundation and Concrete Work March 2012 to May 2012
  • Steel Installation May 2012 to July 2012
  • Metal Wall Enclosures July 2012 to September 2012
  • Elect and Mech Equip Install September 2012 to November 2012
  • Interior Work November 2012 to March 2013

A major source of concern is the potential for vibration from construction to affect the accuracy of instruments. While this construction work is minor and not to the scale of the Northwest Corner Building, there is the potential for some disruption. Experience on similar work within the Grove informs us that the most likely disruptive time will be during the Foundation and Concrete Work period when we are drilling piles into the bedrock and cutting away at existing concrete encased columns to expose steel.

What are you doing to mitigate any impacts?

Mitigation efforts will focus on measures to reduce noise, emissions and dust in and around the construction zone which will be directly under the bridge pathway leading from Havemeyer to the Pupin Plaza. Plywood and plastic screens will be installed to east and west of the bridge pathway to reduce dust and lessen noise transmission. In addition measures will be undertaken to prevent emission transfer into adjacent building air intakes. The no idling zone will be enforced.

Will the be shutdowns?

All shutdowns will be scheduled ahead of time and at least 48 hours notice will be provided.  

What is the communications plan?

A general meeting will be set up with researchers whose programs are adjacent to the work zone to provide further detail. In addition walk-throughs of specific labs will be undertaken to determine construction work impacts.

During the construction period Columbia University Facilities will forward Bi-Weekly Construction Updates for those who have signed up for our project distribution list. You can sign-up to receive Bi-Weekly Construction Updates via email by Facilities. Information and updates will also be posted on the Columbia University Web site - 

Who can I contact for more information?

Please contact the Facilities Service Center at 212-854-2222 or email [email protected]