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Carrier Center: Rehab in a Shell

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, July 07, 2006, at 02:31PM
Carrier Center: Former Robinson Department Store Eric Richardson [Flickr]

The old Robinson Co. department store at 7th and Grand is a very cool looking old building. Built in the early 1910s, the building used to house floors of shopping. Today, though, it's a data center owned by Digital Realty Trust. From the outside you really don't get a sense of what the building's made of internally.

When the building was converted to its present use in the late 1990s thick concrete sheer walls were erected several feet inside the building's fancy exterior. At the same time a concrete slurry was poured into the subbasement. Today the core of the building sits inside a shell -- if a big earthquake were to come the outer tile walls may fall down, but the concrete structure inside will keep on humming with its huge generators and backup water supplies for cooling.

I didn't realize until recently that the exterior you see today (largely the same as in this 1951 photo) isn't what the building looked like when it was built. You can see in this photo from the 1920s that the building originally had a brick exterior that was remade in the ensuing decades. Unlike other facade conversions, this one came out pretty cool.

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