Data centers aren't known for their people-friendly, accessible design (it's often quite the opposite). But with its new Data Center Mural Project, Google is asking artists to help rebrand these ominous, enormous data-storing structures with public art.
"Because these buildings typically aren’t much to look at, people usually don’t, and rarely learn about the incredible structures and people who make so much of modern life possible," says Joe Kava, vice-president of Google Data Centers.
In Mays County, Oklahoma, artist Jenny Odell used satellite images culled from Google Maps to create a set of four collages highlighting different types of infrastructure—swimming pools, circular farms, wastewater treatment plants, and ponds that harvest salt from seawater. After designing the mural digitally, Odell worked with 15 painters to recreate the design on the side of the Mays County data center using more than 400 colors.
Another data center in St. Ghislain, Belgium, was decorated with an abstract interpretation of the cloud by street artist Oli-B. The colorful mural also incorporates images of local Belgian life, such as a balloon from St. Ghislain's annual balloon festival, as well as inside jokes for the data center's employees (including an 8-ball referencing the employee pool table).
At least two more murals—in Dublin, Ireland and Council Bluffs, Iowa—are slated to be finished later this year.