Sun-Times Printing Plant Now Chicago’s Newest Tech Hub

2800 South Ashland (Courtesy of QTS Chicago)

2800 South Ashland (Courtesy of QTS Chicago)

It was way back in 2009 that we wrote our first article about Chicago’s “other” riverwalk — Canalport Park, wedged between the former Chicago Sun-Times printing plant at 2800 South Ashland Avenue, and one of the few remaining segments of the Illinois and Michigan Canal.  It’s a great place to go because so few other people go there, and there are plenty of things to look at from wildlife to salvage operations to people fishing.

But after the Sun-Times moved out of the mammoth building to the south, it became a little creepy.  It was just too quiet.  The few people who came by seemed to be looking for Canal Origins Park across the street.  And the only company was the waterfowl bathing in the swale that cleans the water from the old Sun-Times building before dumping it into the Chicago River.

Now that enormous building has a life again.  It’s not full of people, but computers.  A company called QTS has opened a 317,000 square-foot data center in the old Sun-Times building, giving it new purpose, if not exactly filling it with people again.

If you’re a computer nerd, or someone who just loves contemporary marketing jargon, here’s what’s inside:

QTS Chicago features the transformation of the iconic Chicago Sun-Times facility into a Tier 3 compliant mega data center on Chicago’s south side. It will serve as QTS’ Midwest hub delivering its full portfolio of highly compliant IT infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) featuring customizable data center solutions, colocation hosting, managed hosting, hybrid cloud, and disaster recovery services for the enterprise and government organizations. Situated on a 30 acre campus, QTS Chicago is highly secure and monitored 24x7x365 by QTS’ Operations Services Center (OSC), and on-site network teams and building management systems.

Phase 1 will include 48,000 square feet of new raised floor and 8 megawatts of critical power. When fully developed, the 317,000 square foot Building 1 will support a total of 133,000 square feet of raised floor encompassing 24 megawatts of power. QTS has the ability to add an additional 213,000 square feet of raised floor and 32 megawatts of power in Building 2 for a total of 346,000 square feet of raised floor and 56 megawatts of power within the campus.

Instead of using traditional HVAC systems to cool the facility, it features a thermal wheel, which is like a giant wheel that gets hot on one side, and gets rid of hot on the other as it rotates.

Again, it’s not exactly going to fill the neighborhood with tech-types and spur the development of new coffee houses and Apple Stores.  But at least it’s taking one of the city’s large, unused, last-century buildings and putting it to good use.

Location: 2800 South Ashland Boulevard, McKinley Park

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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