MATT Construction is wrapping up construction on CoreSite SV7, a massive data center in Santa Clara, CA at the end of this month. Built on an accelerated time scheduled, the project is highlighted by the use of ConXtech for structural steel placement - a technique that allowed MATT to put up 240,000 sq-ft of steel in 15 days.

ConXtech Inc. is a construction technology company based in Pleasanton, CA. The company's website says the ConX system is a "chassis based modular structural steel building system which enables rapid delivery of robust, cost efficient and sustainable structures."

With the system, beams slide into wedges at connection points allowing all pieces to be dropped in and bolted later, eliminating the need for on-site welding. The system allows for full vertical construction. Columns can be erected in a single piece working from one end of the building to the other with no field splicing, says the company. In addition, no braces or shear walls are necessary, which means ultimate flexibility on the floor plan – a plus for data centers.

MATT project officials say they went with ConXtech because data centers have a regular framing and grid, "so the product marries up well with the function of the building."

Greg Wade, vice president and senior project manager on the CoreSite SV7 project, told me that MATT had employed ConXtech on an earlier building for CoreSite and the technique demonstrated that an accelerated schedule was possible, so "it was an easy decision" to employ it again.

"Data centers are easily designed around bay sizes that work very efficiently with ConXtech," says Wade. "Erection time is very fast with self-truing 4-way moment frame bolted connections, making getting the final frame ready for deck pours faster than any other steel framed system.  Moment frame construction also means no X-bracing or shear walls to get in the way or take extra time to build."

MATT officials say by using ConXtech they shaved 25% off the schedule compared to the traditional method of structural steel installation.

The CoreSite SV7 project, which broke ground last December, will officially complete at the end of this month. Construction costs under MATT Construction are approximately $134 million. The project is not pursuing a LEED rating but Wade says the design is in accordance with California Building Code sustainability requirements.

Project team members include DCM Designs – architect; FBA-structural engineer; PJK – electrical engineer; UMI – design-build HVAC and plumbing; BKF-civil engineer; and Redwood Electric Group - electrical contractor

Looking back over the project Wade says one of the biggest project challenges was pushing the subcontractors to improve the construction schedule while accommodating many tenant changes. 

"We dealt with the challenge by increasing the frequency and quality of our subcontractor communication, says Wade. "We housed the foremen for the two most critical trades - electrical and HVAC/piping - in our jobsite office and held twice weekly foreman meeting with all the subs, and daily focus meetings with critical trades, owner, the city, and consultants when we had urgent issues that needed addressing."

Wade says MATT used a coordinated BIM model to pre-plan the limited space available for MEP above ceilings, and below raised floors. "We met in the field with the foremen to review and address changes, and to fine tune routing, which helped us avoid lengthy resolutions of field issues," he says.