Rise of Data Center Construction: Key Players and Market Insights

July 8, 2024
8 Min.
Rise of Data Center Construction: Key Players and Market Insights

Data center construction involves a complex process that includes designing, constructing, and maintaining infrastructures that house essential equipment for digital data storage and processing. It involves engineering design, material procurement, civil construction, equipment installation, and substantial commission testing. It takes one to three years to build a data center as the process entails various stages.

As the number of companies and organizations utilizing cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) services continues to grow rapidly, there is a high demand for technical support and storage. The presence of a data center is essential when it comes to dependable IT support and service delivery. They include systems such as Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), Computers, Servers, Storage devices, and Network components.

Large organizations like cloud vendors, banks, telecom companies, or web giants have data centers for their own needs or independent co-location companies that serve many customers. The construction of these data centers is currently on a rapid increase due to the important place they occupy in today’s world. As the demand for digital infrastructure continues to grow, data centers are becoming increasingly necessary.

Roles and Responsibilities in Data Center Construction

Data center construction involves a collaborative effort among project managers, construction managers, architects, engineers, subcontractors, and various specialists. Here are the roles and responsibilities of marketing. 


Owners of data center projects have strategic and financial management roles. Data centers are usually owned by large companies such as banks or cloud service providers for their use, or by third-party data center operators that rent out space. They outline project objectives and determine the budget, and the time framework related to business goals. Quality control is usually handled by the owner, to guarantee that quality is consistent throughout the construction and operation of the facility. They also coordinate risk factors that are inherent in the project. 

Project Manager

A Data Center project manager provides managerial leadership in the planning and implementation of data center construction projects. They plan necessary equipment maintenance, provide statistical data and funds to cover new project costs, and establish operational accounts. They are also involved in the organization of cross-IT enterprise projects, site reviews and decisions, and oversight of in-progress and completed projects. Effective communication with stakeholders and regular reporting on project status and outcomes are essential for successful project delivery. 

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Data Center Engineers

Data Center Engineers in data center construction are responsible for designing and implementing important IT systems such as servers, power systems, and cooling equipment. They work closely with architects, general contractors, and other stakeholders to integrate these systems seamlessly into the overall construction plans. 

During construction, Data Center Engineers evaluate emerging technologies, recommend improvements, and troubleshoot hardware and network issues to ensure the data center's efficiency, reliability, and security. Their expertise and adaptability are essential for successful construction and long-term functionality.

General Contractors

In data center construction, only a select group of specialized businesses is hired by the general contractor (GC) through bidding. They oversee design development, secure compliance with strict technical requirements, and manage substantial financial responsibilities, including potential liquidated damages. GCs use their expertise in complex infrastructure and innovative construction methods to deliver secure, adaptable data center facilities while upholding rigorous quality and safety standards.

Governments and Authorities

Government and local authorities maintain regulation of construction throughout the data center construction process. They also provide approvals on permits, environmental impacts, and zoning provisions. They confirm that chosen locations can provide sufficient energy without causing power shortages in the surrounding area. Their role is to maintain legal obedience and the use of best practices for sustainable development within the data center business.

Commissioning Team

The commissioning agent supervises the commissioning team made up of the owner’s representatives, architects, engineers, general contractors, major subcontractors, vendors, and suppliers. Their primary objective is to ensure that all systems and equipment in the data center operate correctly and fulfill the owner’s project requirements (OPR). This process begins during the programming phase of a project and continues through the design, construction, and start-up phases.

Process of Building Data Center Construction

Here is the process of building Data center construction:

Planning and Design

During the planning and design phase of data center construction, it is important to carefully analyze potential sites to confirm that they meet minimum requirements. This includes evaluating layout adequacy, access for construction equipment and operations, zoning and permitting compliance, and potential for site expansion. It also includes environmental considerations such as storm patterns and soil conditions, and access to utilities and fiber connectivity.

Owners and contractors often use customized checklists to meet all specific needs. After finding the right site, the design process usually moves rapidly, using standardized designs that you can modify to fit different scenarios, including leased facilities.

Key considerations during the design of the data center include optimizing power and water supply capabilities, navigating regulatory requirements, and planning for operational efficiency and scalability. This phase sets the foundation for the subsequent stages of procurement, permitting, and construction.

Pre-construction Phase 

After carefully selecting the site and finalizing detailed designs, owners engage a select group of trusted contractors. These contractors collaborate actively with the design team to refine plans, they are not only practical but also cost-effective. When building a data center on undeveloped land, the first step is to remove vegetation and mark out utility lines. You must also prepare the ground for construction by excavating and stabilizing the soil. Simultaneously, the team navigates the process of obtaining necessary approvals for zoning compliance and environmental regulations to proceed smoothly with construction.

Material procurement becomes a critical focus during this phase, with detailed attention to sourcing high-quality materials and confirming that they arrive punctually to meet construction schedules. The data center design contains full redundancies such as backup generators and supplementary cooling systems. 


When constructing a data center, it's important to select a construction company with strong communication and project management skills. They manage the construction process, which involves deciding between using concrete, known for its durability and fire resistance. Similarly, choose steel which is lighter but requires fire protection. It's recommended to use recycled materials such as salvaged stone and eco-friendly insulation for sustainability.

During construction, the main components are housed in the core structure, typically made of a mix of concrete and steel. The shell, with reinforced concrete walls and roof, protects from the elements of the equipment. Substations and fuel storage tanks are in place to offer backup power during emergencies. Infrastructure elements like utilities, drainage systems, and security measures are carefully planned for operational efficiency and safety. Efficient project management keeps construction on track, meeting timelines, and staying within budget to deliver a fully functional data center.

Common Challenges in Data Center Construction

While constructing a data center, numerous complexities and potential risks arise. It affects the timeline, costs, and overall success of the project. Here are some common challenges faced during data center construction:

  • Site Selection and Geographical Issues: Choosing safe locations free from natural disasters and security risks, and complying with local regulations.
  • High Cost of Delays: Delays can lead to high liquidated damages. It requires contractors to constantly find ways to keep the project on track through adjustments and change orders.
  • Materials Supply and Costs: Supply chain disruptions and price fluctuations in materials such as concrete, aluminum, etc can disrupt budgets and timelines.
  • Labor and Skilled Workforce Shortages: The demand for technical skills in electrical, HVAC, and network installation, associated with a limited labor pool, can cause delays and reduce productivity.
  • Project Management and Coordination: Effective coordination of multinational stakeholders and resource management is essential to prevent miscommunication and inadequate risk management.
  • Power Considerations and Sustainability: It is expensive to provide reliable power supply and to implement sustainable solutions, especially in remote locations where maintenance is expensive.
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How Much Does It Cost to Build a Data Center?

Building a data center involves various costs depending on factors such as size, location, and technological requirements. Typically, data center build costs can range from $600 to $1,100 per gross square foot. For large-scale data centers used by major tech companies, construction costs can range from $250 million to $500 million. 

In contrast, a mid-sized data center for an enterprise might cost $2 million to $5 million. Smaller data centers may cost around $1,000 per square foot to build. These costs do not include additional expenses like fiber optic infrastructure, which can add significant costs per mile.

Similarly, there are over 2500 data centers in the United States. Some primary data centers are in Northern Virginia, Phoenix, Portland, New York and New Jersey, Los Angeles, and North California. The largest 

Similarly, there are over 2,500 data centers in the United States. Some primary data centers are in Northern Virginia, Phoenix, Portland, New York and New Jersey, Los Angeles, and North California. Meta Platforms (Facebook) owns the largest data center in the United States. It spans a total of 4.6 million square feet and is located in Prineville, Oregon.

Primary Data Center in Unites States
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Top 5 Key Data Center Construction Companies

DPR Construction

DPR Construction is a commercial general contractor and construction management company based in Redwood City, California, United States. The company specializes in delivering mega-high complex and technically challenging projects in different sectors. Currently, they are among the biggest data center construction companies across the globe.

Among their projects, Meta Mesa Data Center in Mesa, Arizona is a large greenfield project that occupies more than 2. 5 million square feet. This facility is already planned and built to be one of the premier and greenest data centers globally.

DPR Construction is also involved in building some of the other important data centers for Meta such as Fort Worth Data Centre, Henrico Data Centre, and Gallatin Data Centre. They have also contributed to the Content Portal Data Center in Quincy, Washington with 155,000 square feet of raised floor space and a critical power of 5MW.

Turner Construction

Turner Construction Company founded in 1902, is one of the largest general contractors in the United States. They specialize in various sectors, including commercial, healthcare, education, and technology. They utilize advanced construction techniques and technologies, such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) capabilities and technical expertise.

Turner Construction has been involved in numerous high-profile data center projects, providing comprehensive services from design to completion. Some of the notable projects include the Silicon Valley Data Center, a two-story, 125,000-square-foot data center featuring pre-finished metal panels, pre-cast concrete panels, and a steel-braced frame. Other notable projects are the Meta Data Center in Jeffersonville, Indiana, as well as the Bluestone Data Center, Papillion Data Center, and Buildings 1 & 2, among others.


AECOM is an international infrastructure design and project management company having more than 50,000 employees globally. It is known for its wide-ranging services in engineering, architecture, and environmental fields. They work in partnership with clients to solve complex issues and provide sustainable solutions for different sectors, especially in data center construction.

AECOM also has vast experience in planning and executing the construction of data centers and mission-critical facilities in various parts of the world. Their project entails the Sentinel Data Centers project based in Somerset New Jersey United States of America. AECOM has worked with Sentinel to convert a 220,000-square-foot warehouse into a multi-tenant Tier 3 data center. 

Moreover, AECOM has innovated in response to the growing demand for data centers by partnering with Project Frog. Together, they have developed modular building solutions that combine the quality and flexibility of traditional construction methods to meet the specific needs of data center infrastructure. 

Hitt Contracting 

HITT Contracting offers a wide range of construction services across the nation, from complex core and shell buildings to interior fit-outs and routine service work. No matter the project size or type, HITT delivers a premium construction experience on every project. HITT is one of the top 20 largest general contractors in the U.S. Headquartered in the Washington, DC area, HITT has been elevating the business of building nationwide for more than 85 years. 

HITT earns clients’ trust by making every building experience exceptional. Their projects include the UNC Lineberger Advanced Cellular Therapy cGMP Facility, CBRE Workplace 360 in Seattle, and the Inova Fairfax Hospital Professional Services Building's fifth floor.

Hoffman Construction

Hoffman Construction Company was founded in Portland, Oregon in 1922 and has now become one of the leading general contractors. They are particularly notable for innovations in safety, sustainability, and integrated team delivery across markets. Their service includes preconstruction services, new construction, building renovations, and complete tenant improvements. In the area of data center construction, Hoffman has completed significant projects showcasing their expertise and scale.

An outstanding project is the Eastern Washington Data Center Cluster, located on a 220-acre site in Eastern Washington. Hoffman’s Precision Construction division has completed more than ninety projects on the ATN data center campus.

Additionally, Hoffman Construction has implemented site infrastructure and building shell for a large 165-acre, 140MW data center campus in San Antonio, Texas. It showcases them as a trusted collaborator in building pivotal data center infrastructure that offers high performance and reliability.

Largest Data Centers in Construction

The demand for new data centers is continually increasing due to the ever-growing need for data storage and management. Major companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft regularly announce new projects, as these tech giants require extensive data centers to handle their expanding information repositories. Data centers are crucial for various applications, including cloud computing, financial transactions, artificial intelligence, and social media platforms.

Global networks connecting diverse regions such as China, the US, India, and Norway heavily rely on data centers. They form the backbone of the digital infrastructure, supporting the seamless operation of numerous digital services.

Here are some of the largest data centers around the globe:

  1. China Telecom-Inner Mongolia Information Park(Hohhot, China)
  2.  The Citadel – Switch Legacy (Tahoe Reno, Nevada, USA)
  3.  Yotta NM1 (Panvel, India)
  4.  Utah Data Center (Utah, USA)
  5.  Lakeside Technology Center (Chicago, Illinois, USA)
  6.  QTS Metro Data Center (Ashburn, Virginia, USA)
  7.  Google Cloud Platform Loudoun County Hyperscale Zone (Virginia, USA)
  8. Alibaba Cloud Zhangbei Data Center (Zhangbei County, China)
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Enhance Data Center Construction With Kwant AI

Since data centers are large-scale projects, reducing risks and improving safety is important. Kwant's access control solutions restrict access to hazardous work zones. Kwant makes sure only authorized personnel can enter dangerous areas such as electrical rooms and equipment storage spaces. 

Kwant 2.0's heatmaps and real-time location visualization tools improve zone management. They provide clear insights into which areas are safe and which are off-limits. Additionally, Kwant can flag expiring or expired worker certifications. This proactive approach allows only certified personnel to be on-site, significantly reducing risk.

Similarly, automating headcount further enhances safety by improving the accuracy and efficiency of personnel tracking. It reduces administrative burdens and supports payroll validation. These features empower project managers to make data-driven decisions, predict delays, and enhance overall safety programs.

Experience the future of construction safety with Kwant. Request a demo today and discover how our advanced access control solutions can transform your project.

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