A telecom landmark gets wired for the cloud

The historic Pacific Bell building in downtown San Francisco is getting a big network boost to support high-tech tenants

By , IDG News Service |  Unified Communications

The developer is still evaluating how Wi-Fi will perform in that setting. It will provide Wi-Fi on the first floor and in a private courtyard, but any additional networks will be the tenants' responsibility. Repeaters should allow them to cover the L-shaped floorplans, Callahan said. With the phone company's original hollow-tile interior walls gone, any new office walls can be built with plasterboard, which doesn't block signals as much.

Cellular coverage is fairly good at 140 New Montgomery now, partly because the floors are fairly narrow and a tall window is never far away. But the building is also still empty, Callahan pointed out. Relying on conventional macro cells outside may work for a while, but Wilson Meany plans to have some form of cellular repeater or distributed antenna system installed by either an existing carrier or a neutral host provider, he said.

One place where the landmark building will scrape the cutting edge of technology is in the building management network. Elevator controls, building security, mechanical controls, per-floor power meters and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems will all be linked over an Ethernet LAN running up the central riser of the building, Callahan said. That linkage will allow for better overall management, including remote Web-based management, and for automating some tasks. For example, when an employee arrives and flashes an identity badge, he or she can be directed to an elevator that will go right to the correct floor.

But in most ways, the point of 140 New Montgomery is not to break new ground as much as to put current technology in a massive Art Deco jewel box. "It's taking a building of this architectural quality and size and bringing it up to those same standards that a new building would have," Callahan said. The developers, architects and subcontractors want to let tenants create future technologies in a space that says something about the past, and maybe a bit about an earlier communications boom.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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