IBM Rochester

IBM Rochester is the facility of IBM in Rochester, Minnesota. The initial structure was designed by Eero Saarinen, who clad the structure in blue panels of varying hues after being inspired by the Minnesota sky[1], as well as IBM's nickname of "Big Blue". These features and the facility's size has earned it the nickname "The Big Blue Zoo" from employees.[2]

IBM Rochester
General information
StatusComplete
Address3605 Highway 52 North
Town or cityRochester, Minnesota
CountryUnited States
Coordinates44°03′30″N 92°30′20″W
Current tenantsIBM, Western Digital
Groundbreaking1956
InauguratedSeptember 30, 1958
OwnerIndustrial Realty Group
Technical details
Floor count3
Floor area3,100,000 sq ft (290,000 m2)
Grounds492 acres (200 hectares)
Website
https://www.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/rochester/rochester_intro.html

History

Early years

Groundbreaking for the facility took place on July 31, 1956. When it was first completed, there was 576,000 square feet (53,500 m²) of floor space. There is 3.1 million square feet (290,000 m²) today on the main campus, more than half the size of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Rumors have appeared over the years suggesting that the structure was designed to look like a punched card from above, but this is more due to the facility's expansion over the years rather than an intention by Saarinen.

The building was first dedicated in 1958, but has been expanded considerably since then.

Current developments

Employment at the site has gone through several cycles of growth and collapse, but is over twice what it was in the 1950s.

On May 4, 2016, it was announced that IBM would be consolidating its remaining employees into the eight buildings on the east side of the complex, and selling the remaining facilitates to a separate entity.[3] This occurred after years of IBM renting out its various facilities to companies it had spun or sold off such as HGST, as well as others. The site's employee count (excluding contractors) was reported to be 2,740 in 2013 and 2,791 in 2017, a steep decline from the high of over 8,000.[4][5]

In February 2018 the property was sold to Industrial Realty Group of Los Angeles.[6]

On April 24, 2018, it was announced during a presentation for the local community that the name of the site would be changed to the Rochester Technology Campus.[7]

Products

The mile-long facility is best known as the plant that produced the AS/400 computer system, which later was rebranded as the iSeries and now System i. RS/6000, now System p, and hard disk development has also occurred at the site at points in the past.

IBM Power Systems development is still done at the site.[8]

PureSystems were originally assembled at this site,[9] but are now mainly assembled in New York and Mexico.[10]

The IBM 5110 personal computer was developed and manufactured in the facility.

IBM Rochester played an important in the Summit and Sierra supercomputers.[11][12]

Distinctions

The AS/400 division at the plant received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1990. In November 2004, the facility claimed the top spot in the TOP500 list of fast supercomputers with a prototype Blue Gene/L system containing 32,768 processors. It clocked in at 70.72 teraflops. The manufacturing output of the site is so great that if it were a separate company, it would be the world's third-largest computer producer.

The plant, which is near U.S. Highway 52 in the northwestern part of Rochester, was recognized in 1990 by the National Building Museum as one of the significant contributions of IBM to the built environment of the United States, along with IBM's New York City headquarters and the IBM building in Atlanta, Georgia.

Tenants

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, although having been spun off from IBM Storage Technology, remains on-site, leasing otherwise unused space from IBM. Along with the Mayo Clinic, the IBM plant is one of the biggest employers in the Rochester area, reportedly numbering around 5,000 in 2002.

References

  1. Thao, Susan (2019-08-02). "Was Minnesota the inspiration behind IBM's nickname "Big Blue"?". TPT Originals. Retrieved 2019-10-08.
  2. Zemsky, Robert (2013). Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise. Rutgers University Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0813561349. Located eighty-five miles due south of the Twin Cities, Rochester is the home of both the Mayo Clinic and a major IBM facility housed in an Euro Saarinen edifice affectionately known as the Big Blue Zoo.
  3. http://www.postbulletin.com/news/local/ibm-to-sell-buildings-consolidate-campus/article_8a84da67-c943-5c50-bcb2-f0b257d71aaa.html
  4. http://www.postbulletin.com/business/rochester-ibm-head-count/article_b21477fa-de71-58b5-b4c1-59b64c3cdc8c.html
  5. Jeff, Kiger (2018-02-04). "Rochester IBM employee numbers are ... up?". Rochester Post-Bulletin. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  6. Andy Brownell. "From Rapid Growth to Slow Decline - History of IBM-Rochester". News Talk 1340 KROC-AM. Retrieved 2019-08-19.
  7. Bunner, James (2018-04-24). "Big Blue campus gets new name, community gets new opportunities". Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  8. "IBM To Sell Off Two-Thirds Of The Rochester Labs".
  9. IT-Jungle Volume 21, Number 16 -- April 23, 2012
  10. IBM moving Rochester production to NY, Mexico March 6, 2013 at MPRNews
  11. Kiger, Jeff. "Heard on the Street: IBM Rochester supercomputers remain top two fastest in the world". PostBulletin.com. Retrieved 2019-08-19.
  12. jkiger@postbulletin.com, Jeff Kiger. "Rochester team helps IBM create world's fastest computer". PostBulletin.com. Retrieved 2019-08-19.


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