Switch has its eyes on the old Steelcase Pyramid

PyramidBy: Mike DeWitt

It’s truly a stunning facility. A seven-story, 670,000-square-foot, research facility shaped like a pyramid. Even the ancient Egyptians would be envious.

Much like the Egyptian pyramids, the $111 million building commonly known as the Steelcase Pyramid–it acted as the company’s headquarters since the building’s inception in 1989–has been a tomb since 2010. A massive slab of granite and architectural beauty sitting on 125 acres of property just looking for a purpose.

Enter Switch, a data company that intends to purchase the pyramid and build a $5 billion SUPERNAP data center on its campus.

Switch Pyramid campusThe 2-million-square-foot data center would be the largest in the Eastern United States. The inland location of the pyramid places the data center within millisecond protocols of major markets without the risk of natural disasters that come with having a facility on the coastline.

“SUPERNAP Michigan will be 2 milliseconds from Chicago and 14 milliseconds from New York,” said the company’s announcement. “The prime campus locations have low millisecond access to the largest people hubs in the U.S. without being burdened with the high power prices, taxes, and earthquake/hurricane risks associated with those cities.”

There’s one potential hangup here with Switch moving into the pyramid, and it has to do with taxes. No building has been sold, no one has been hired, and nothing has been signed until Michigan legislature is wiling to give data centers a tax break.

West Michigan legislators introduced three bills in the Michigan House and Senate last week. Rep. Ken Yonker from Caledonia is leading the charge.

Pyramid 3The purchase of the pyramid would be a huge boon for technology and information economic development in West Michigan. Switch not only brings a wealth of big name companies in its client base including Google, Amazon, eBay, Time Warner, Sony, Dreamworks, Shutterfly, and Boeing, but the new data center would also bring 1,000 new jobs within ten years.

If the purchase is finalized, jobs will be created, economic and technological development will be brought to the area, and one of West Michigan’s most unique buildings has a purpose once again.

“This is the most amazing building I have ever seen,” explained property manager Jim Faunce to WKTV back in August after moving from Colorado to head the project. “I am in total awe of it!”

So are we, and it’ll be an honor to see the building put to use once again.



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