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Geologists and Supercomputers Under One Roof

BP Center for High-Performance Computing
Houston, Texas, USA

“BP’s investment in this new supercomputing center not only highlights the increasingly high-tech nature of today’s global oil and gas industry, it underscores our company’s long-held belief in the vital role technology plays – and will continue to play – in solving the world’s biggest energy challenges.”

Jackie Mutschler
Head of Upstream Technology, BP

BP’s global facility processes vast amounts of geophysical data and seismic images that enable its scientists to explore what lies beneath the earth’s surface. 

Located on BP’s campus in the Houston Energy Corridor, the Center for High-Performance Computing houses one of the world’s largest supercomputers for commercial research. HOK’s team collaborated with BP’s top geologists and scientists to ensure that the high-performance workplace supports its world-class data center.

The building’s low-rise profile stands out among the campus high-rises. Its fully glazed, undulating north facade captures attention while welcoming visitors with an approachable scale. To develop the exterior, the team abstracted and pixelated images of geophysical strata produced by the computers inside. These images were translated into the ripples of the glass facade and the patterns on the concrete panels. 

Servers and mechanical systems are oriented to the south of the site and encased in the opaque, pre-cast concrete shell while the fully glazed office spaces are located to the north. The design layers and stacks the building’s functions, with the materiality communicating the programs of the internal spaces. 

Optimal solar orientation and high-performance mechanical and electrical systems provide a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.35, which is well below the typical data center average of 1.85. 

BP needs the center to continue operating during manmade or natural disasters. Designed to resist winds of up 130 mph, the facade is the first line of defense. The second layer of protection is inside, where reinforced CMU walls define the data center and protect the computers. 

“This is a facility other nerds will be quite jealous of,” said Keith Gray, BP’s high performance computing manager, in a Houston Business Journal article.

SIZE

110,000 sq. ft. / 10,220 sq. m.

SERVICES

Architecture
Construction Administration
Facility Programming
Interior Design
Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Engineering
Structural Engineering

AWARDS

Texas Society of Architects (AIA Texas) – 2016 Design Award

Houston Business Journal Landmark Awards – Special Project

Rethinking the Future Award – First Place in “Commercial Built” 

 

30%

Estimated reduction in power consumption compared to BP’s previous supercomputing facility

 
NEWS

31 December 2014
“2014 Year in Review> In Detail Favorites”
The Architect’s Newspaper

1 November 2014
“BP Center for High-Performance Computing”
The Architect’s Newspaper

22 October 2013
“BP Opens New Facility in Houston”
BP News

22 October 2013
“BP Unleashes World-Scale Supercomputer”
Houston Business Journal