8-2 Table of Con­tents | http://​dx​.doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​7​7​4​2​/​I​M​A​G​E​.​L​D​.​8​.​2.3 | Pick­ren­PDF


The Fac­to­ries of the Past are Turn­ing into the Data Cen­tres of the Future

Abstract | This essay traces the his­to­ry and geog­ra­phy of data’s mate­ri­al­i­ty by exam­in­ing the trans­for­ma­tion of indus­tri­al build­ing stock in Chica­go to serve the needs of the data indus­try. Using con­tem­po­rary and archival pho­tographs as entry points, the paper unpacks the rise of an infor­ma­tion-based econ­o­my in rela­tion to the decline of an indus­tri­al econ­o­my. Build­ings where work­ers once processed checks, baked bread, and print­ed Sears cat­a­logues now route pack­ets of infor­ma­tion and host servers engaged in finan­cial trad­ing. Thus, con­tained with­in the phys­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion of some of Chicago’s build­ings is a larg­er his­tor­i­cal and geo­graph­i­cal nar­ra­tive about the uneven devel­op­ment of cap­i­tal­ism. This his­tor­i­cal view reminds us that infra­struc­ture is, and always has been, polit­i­cal.

Les usines du passé se trans­for­ment en cen­tres de don­nées du futur

Résumé | Cet essai retrace l'histoire et la géo­gra­phie de la matéri­al­ité des don­nées en exam­i­nant la trans­for­ma­tion des bâti­ments indus­triels à Chica­go pour répon­dre aux besoins de l'industrie des don­nées. En util­isant des pho­togra­phies con­tem­po­raines et d’archives comme point de départ, le texte explore la mon­tée d'une économie axée sur l'information par rap­port au déclin d'une économie indus­trielle. Les bâti­ments où les tra­vailleurs ont autre­fois traité des chèques, cuit du pain, et imprimé les cat­a­logues Sears, trans­met­tent main­tenant des paque­ts d'information et héber­gent des serveurs impliqués dans les échanges financiers. Ain­si, à tra­vers la trans­for­ma­tion physique de cer­tains bâti­ments de Chica­go, il existe un vaste réc­it his­torique et géo­graphique à pro­pos du développe­ment iné­gal du cap­i­tal­isme. Ce point de vue his­torique nous rap­pelle que l'infrastructure est, et a tou­jours été poli­tique.


Gra­ham Pick­ren | Roo­sevelt Uni­ver­si­ty

The Factories of the Past are Turning into the Data Centres of the Future

We live in a data dri­ven world: from social media appli­ca­tions, to “smart” cities (Bat­ty; Shel­ton, Zook, and Wiig), to the Inter­net of Things (Wasik), the gen­er­a­tion of huge vol­umes of infor­ma­tion about near­ly every detail of life has rev­o­lu­tion­ized fields such as busi­ness, gov­ern­ment, and even the pur­suit of romance. While we tend to focus our atten­tion on the appli­ca­tions of these new tech­nolo­gies, it is cru­cial to remem­ber that, like oth­er indus­tries, the growth of com­put­ing entails phys­i­cal changes in the land­scape. The net­works of data cen­tres, fibre-optic cables, and cell tow­ers that pow­er the trans­mis­sion of dig­i­tal data and make the inter­net, mobile devices, and big data appli­ca­tions work are hid­den in plain sight in our cities, sub­urbs, and rur­al com­mu­ni­ties. Like the fac­to­ries, rail­roads, and high­ways that formed the back­bone of the U.S.’s indus­tri­al econ­o­my, the infra­struc­ture of com­put­ing is now cen­tral to mod­ern cap­i­tal­ism.

A robust lit­er­a­ture now exists that has sought to unpack the rela­tions between the “vir­tu­al” tech­nolo­gies of com­put­ing and the mate­r­i­al rela­tions that under­pin them (see East­er­ling; Hogan; Parks and Starosiel­s­ki; Velko­va). In this essay I add to this con­ver­sa­tion by show­ing how the mate­r­i­al infra­struc­tures of com­put­ing con­nect our dig­i­tal present to our indus­tri­al past. Infra­struc­tures that served one his­tor­i­cal­ly and geo­graph­i­cal­ly spe­cif­ic regime of accu­mu­la­tion (U.S. indus­tri­al cap­i­tal­ism) have been reworked to serve the needs of a dig­i­tal econ­o­my. In this rework­ing, we are remind­ed that cap­i­tal­ism is a set of con­tin­u­al­ly evolv­ing social rela­tions that con­stant­ly turnover what has come before while nev­er quite aban­don­ing the past.

In Chica­go, where I teach and research, I have been study­ing the trans­for­ma­tion of the city’s indus­tri­al build­ings to serve the needs of the data indus­try. Build­ings where work­ers once processed checks (Baeb), baked bread (1547 Real­ty), and print­ed Sears cat­a­logues (Miller) now stream Net­flix and host servers engaged in finan­cial trad­ing. The build­ings them­selves are a kind of wit­ness to how the U.S. econ­o­my has changed, but, more than that, they are what Mat­tern has described as the “bleed points” where the phys­i­cal and the vir­tu­al meet (2014). By explor­ing these changes in the land­scape and these bleed points, not only do we get a bet­ter sense of how data exists in the phys­i­cal realm, but we are also struck with new ques­tions about what the rise of an infor­ma­tion-based econ­o­my means for labour and the pol­i­tics of growth in con­tem­po­rary cities. I argue that debates about the emer­gent smart city and the knowl­edge econ­o­my should be ground­ed in the his­tor­i­cal and geo­graph­i­cal con­text of capitalism’s uneven devel­op­ment in order to fore­ground new urban tech­no­log­i­cal for­ma­tions as polit­i­cal rather than mere­ly inevitable. I use pho­tographs and archival images to help illus­trate this con­text while also bring­ing the bleed points of the dig­i­tal age into clear­er focus.

In what fol­lows, I pro­vide a brief overview of the role of data cen­tres in Chicago’s urban devel­op­ment. I then describe the adap­tive reuse of indus­tri­al build­ings for data pur­pos­es as an “ana­log to dig­i­tal” shift. The final sec­tion con­sid­ers the polit­i­cal impli­ca­tions of this shift in terms of employ­ment and urban eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment pol­i­cy.

From Analog to Digital

Data cen­tres have been described as the fac­to­ries of the 21st cen­tu­ry (Cook). A data cen­tre is a facil­i­ty that con­tains servers that store and process dig­i­tal infor­ma­tion. When we hear about data stored “in the cloud,” that data is mate­ri­al­ly stored in a data cen­tre. Con­trary to the ephemer­al-sound­ing term “cloud,” data cen­tres are high­ly ener­gy- and cap­i­tal-inten­sive infra­struc­ture. Servers use tremen­dous amounts of elec­tric­i­ty, which gen­er­ates large amounts of heat, which in turn requires exten­sive invest­ments in cool­ing sys­tems in order to keep servers oper­at­ing. These facil­i­ties also need to be con­nect­ed to fibre-optic cables, which deliv­er infor­ma­tion via beams of light and con­sti­tute the “high­way” part of the “infor­ma­tion super­high­way.” In most places, fibre-optic cables are buried along the rights of way pro­vid­ed by exist­ing road and rail­road net­works, mean­ing the path­ways of the Inter­net are shaped by pre­vi­ous rounds of devel­op­ment (Bur­ring­ton).

What is impor­tant to keep in mind here is that an econ­o­my based on infor­ma­tion, just like one based on man­u­fac­tur­ing, still requires a built envi­ron­ment through which inputs and out­puts cir­cu­late. In oth­er words, place always mat­ters. For the data indus­try, tak­ing advan­tage of the places that have the pow­er capac­i­ty, the build­ing stock, the fibre-optic con­nec­tiv­i­ty, and the prox­im­i­ty to both cus­tomers and oth­er data cen­tres is often cen­tral to their real estate strat­e­gy.

As this real-estate strat­e­gy plays out, what is par­tic­u­lar­ly fas­ci­nat­ing is the way in which infra­struc­ture con­struct­ed to meet the needs of a dif­fer­ent era is now being repur­posed for the data sec­tor. In Chicago’s South Loop, the for­mer R.R. Don­nel­ley & Sons print­ing fac­to­ry, at one time one of the largest print­ers in the U.S. pro­duc­ing every­thing from Bibles to Sears cat­a­logs, is now the Lake­side Tech­nol­o­gy Cen­ter, one of the largest data cen­tres in the world and the sec­ond largest con­sumer of elec­tric­i­ty in the state of Illi­nois (Miller). The eight-sto­ry Goth­ic-style build­ing con­tains ver­ti­cal shafts for­mer­ly used to haul heavy stacks of print­ed mate­r­i­al between floors, and these columns are now used to run fibre-optic cabling through the build­ing (which comes in from the rail­road spur out­side). Heavy floors built to with­stand the weight of print­ing press­es are now used to sup­port rack upon rack of serv­er equip­ment. What was once the pin­na­cle of the “ana­log” world of the print­ed word is now a cen­tral node in glob­al finan­cial net­works.

Pho­to­graph of print­ing press #D2, 1949. R.R. Don­nel­ley & Sons Com­pa­ny. R.R. Don­nel­ley & Sons Com­pa­ny. Archive, Spe­cial Col­lec­tions Research Cen­ter, Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go Library

Just a few miles south of Lake­side Tech­nol­o­gy Cen­ter is the for­mer home of Schulze Bak­ing Com­pa­ny in the South Side neigh­bor­hood of Wash­ing­ton Park. Once famous for its but­ter­nut bread, the five-sto­ry ter­ra-cot­ta bak­ery is cur­rent­ly being ren­o­vat­ed into the Mid­way Tech­nol­o­gy Cen­ter. Like the project in the South Loop, the Schulze bak­ery con­tains fea­tures use­ful to the data indus­try. The build­ing also has heavy-load-bear­ing floors as well as lou­vered win­dows designed to dis­si­pate the heat from bread ovens (or in this case, servers). The neigh­bor­hood as a whole also makes the Schulze desir­able. I inter­viewed a devel­op­er work­ing on the Schulze rede­vel­op­ment project and he told me that because the sur­round­ing area had been dein­dus­tri­al­ized, and because a large pub­lic hous­ing project, the Robert Tay­lor Homes, had closed down in recent decades, the near­by pow­er sub­sta­tions actu­al­ly had plen­ty of idle capac­i­ty to meet the data centre’s needs.

Schulze Bak­ing Com­pa­ny adver­tise­ment. Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois Chica­go Dig­i­tal Col­lec­tions

 The Schulze Bak­ing Com­pa­ny oper­at­ed on Chicago’s South Side from 1914–2004. The his­toric build­ing is being turned into a data cen­tre. Pho­to: Gra­ham Pick­ren

Exam­ples of this “adap­tive reuse” of indus­tri­al build­ing stock abound. The for­mer Chica­go Sun-Times print­ing facil­i­ty recent­ly became a 320,000 square foot data cen­tre (Harley); a Motoro­la office build­ing and for­mer tele­vi­sion fac­to­ry in the sub­urbs has been bought by one of the large data cen­tre com­pa­nies (Sverd­lik); and the once mighty retail­er Sears, which has one of the largest real-estate port­fo­lios in the coun­try, has even cre­at­ed a real-estate divi­sion tasked with spin­ning off some of its stores into data cen­tre prop­er­ties (Ryan). Beyond Chica­go, Ama­zon is in the process of turn­ing an old bis­cuit fac­to­ry into a data cen­tre, and in New York some of the world’s most sig­nif­i­cant data cen­tre prop­er­ties are housed in the for­mer homes of West­ern Union and the Port Author­i­ty, two giants of 20th-cen­tu­ry moder­ni­ty.

To be sure, not every data cen­tre project involves reusing exist­ing build­ings. Many of the large tech com­pa­nies, such as Face­book and Google, focus on build­ing stand­alone state-of-the-art facil­i­ties cus­tom-built to their needs. Yet even in these exam­ples, place still mat­ters. For instance, Face­book, Google, and Microsoft have all built large data cen­tres in the Pacif­ic North­west in regions that have cheap elec­tric pow­er and high-volt­age pow­er lines that for­mer­ly served the tim­ber and min­ing indus­tries. The com­mon thread is that across urban adap­tive reuse projects and rur­al devel­op­ments, there is no blank slate upon which the world of data sim­ply emerges. What we see here in these sto­ries is the see­saw of cap­i­tal­ist devel­op­ment and how decline can actu­al­ly cre­ate con­di­tions for growth. As cer­tain indus­tries and regions decline, some of the infra­struc­ture retains its val­ue, thus pro­vid­ing incen­tives for savvy investors down the road to seize upon an oppor­tu­ni­ty. More broad­ly, we see that under­stand­ing where the infra­struc­ture of com­put­ing is and why requires grap­pling with pre­vi­ous rounds of uneven cap­i­tal­ist devel­op­ment span­ning back a cen­tu­ry or more to the devel­op­ment of the rail­roads, the tele­graph, and the indus­tri­al and polit­i­cal needs of the 19th and 20th cen­turies. Cycles of boom and bust, ten­sions between capital’s fix­i­ty and mobil­i­ty, and the shift­ing promi­nence of a “cog­ni­tive cul­tur­al cap­i­tal­ism” (Scott) vis-à-vis man­u­fac­tur­ing all there­fore pro­vide much-need­ed con­text in under­stand­ing big data and com­put­ing today.

While this essay does not attempt to review the vast lit­er­a­ture on crit­i­cal polit­i­cal econ­o­my in order to pin­point the macro­eco­nom­ic dri­vers of an indus­tri­al to post-indus­tri­al shift, of which computing’s rise is a part, (see Har­vey; Arrighi; Bren­ner), what this lit­er­a­ture offers is a rela­tion­al approach to under­stand­ing how built envi­ron­ment, cap­i­tal, and social rela­tions inter­sect. Rather than neat­ly peri­odiz­ing dif­fer­ent phas­es of cap­i­tal­ist urban­iza­tion and sit­u­at­ing data as nov­el, what I focus on instead are the con­ti­nu­ities between an (always tem­po­rary) indus­tri­al peri­od and the (sim­i­lar­ly tem­po­rary) ascen­dan­cy of dig­i­tal cap­i­tal­ism. Across these dif­fer­ent moments, we see mate­r­i­al relations—the mix­ing of labour, non-human objects, and value—unfolding in ways that pro­duce win­ners and losers. Both print­ing fac­to­ries and data cen­tres are polit­i­cal sites as well as sites that trans­form resources and mate­ri­als. In what fol­lows, I briefly con­sid­er both the labour pol­i­tics and the urban growth pol­i­tics that flow from this ana­log to dig­i­tal shift.

Data, Labour, and Urban Politics

How com­put­ing con­tin­ues to ani­mate changes in the phys­i­cal land­scape is of course linked to changes in the social land­scape. Many stud­ies of tech­nol­o­gy focus on one or the oth­er, but in this sec­tion I link them togeth­er. First, there is the issue of labour and employ­ment. Data cen­tres gen­er­ate tax rev­enues but do not employ many peo­ple, so their relo­ca­tion to places such as Wash­ing­ton Park is unlike­ly to change the eco­nom­ic for­tunes of local res­i­dents (even so, the devel­op­er on the Schulze project hopes to have an IT-train­ing com­po­nent of the facil­i­ty avail­able to local res­i­dents). If the data cen­tre is the “fac­to­ry of the 21st cen­tu­ry,” whith­er the work­ing class?

Data cen­tres are in many ways cru­cial to changes such as machine-learn­ing, which threat­en to auto­mate large num­bers of tasks across a range of both high- and low-skilled jobs that involve rou­tine work. By one mea­sure, as much as 47% of U.S. employ­ment is at risk of being auto­mat­ed (“Automa­tion and Anx­i­ety”). Buried with­in the ques­tion of what the fac­to­ry of the 21st cen­tu­ry means for work­ing peo­ple is the larg­er issue of the rela­tion­ship between automa­tion and the polar­iza­tion of incomes. Both low- and high-skilled jobs that are non-rou­tine (i.e. dif­fi­cult to auto­mate) are grow­ing in the U.S. Some of these jobs will be sup­port­ed by data cen­tres, free­ing up work­ers from cer­tain tasks (say, med­ical image analy­sis) so that they can focus on oth­er skills (“Automa­tion and Anx­i­ety”).

On the flip side, the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, which has pro­vid­ed so many peo­ple with a lad­der into the mid­dle class, is in decline in terms of employ­ment. The data cen­tre also embod­ies and facil­i­tates that polar­iza­tion, as data man­age­ment sup­ports the logis­tics of off­shoring and automa­tion that dis­places work­ers. To para­phrase Joseph Schum­peter, data cen­tres seem like­ly to both cre­ate and destroy.  The polit­i­cal prob­lem is that where jobs are cre­at­ed, where they are destroyed, and who is affect­ed are social­ly and geo­graph­i­cal­ly uneven. For neigh­bor­hoods such as Wash­ing­ton Park, cap­i­tal is once again flow­ing and spark­ing sur­plus-val­ue cre­ation, but this swell of invest­ment does not raise as many boats as it used to under pre­vi­ous regimes of accu­mu­la­tion. The neigh­bor­hood is prized for its infra­struc­ture but not nec­es­sar­i­ly for its peo­ple. In fact, the devel­op­er of the Mid­way Tech­nol­o­gy Cen­ter told me that the low pop­u­la­tion of the neigh­bor­hood was an added bonus for build­ing secu­ri­ty.

Bak­ers work­ing the con­vey­or belt at Schulze Bak­ing Com­pa­ny, cir­ca 1920. The new data cen­tre will employ sig­nif­i­cant­ly few­er work­ers than the bak­ery. By Fred A. Behmer for the Jef­frey Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pa­ny, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

Inside the Schulze Bak­ing Fac­to­ry in Feb­ru­ary 2016 in prepa­ra­tion for remod­el­ing into the Mid­way Tech­nol­o­gy Cen­ter. Pho­to by the author.

Sec­ond, the phys­i­cal Inter­net today is expand­ing in ways that are path-depen­dent but also being shaped by the cur­rent neolib­er­al polit­i­cal eco­nom­ic con­text in which urban and region­al entre­pre­neuri­al­ism and place-mar­ket­ing fig­ure promi­nent­ly (Har­vey). Pub­lic offi­cials around the world are eager to grease the skids of data cen­tre devel­op­ment; for exam­ple, Chica­go has the Data Cen­ter Express, a pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship whose pur­pose is to stream­line the process of data cen­tre devel­op­ment, and gen­er­ous tax incen­tives are often part of the data cen­tre devel­op­ment process in any loca­tion. As the Asso­ci­at­ed Press recent­ly report­ed, state gov­ern­ments across the U.S. extend­ed near­ly $1.5 bil­lion in tax incen­tives to hun­dreds of data cen­tre projects nation­wide dur­ing the past decade (“Com­pet­ing for data cen­ters”). For exam­ple, an Ore­gon law tar­get­ing data cen­tres pro­vides prop­er­ty-tax relief on facil­i­ties, equip­ment, and employ­ment for up to five years in exchange for cre­at­ing one job (Ham­mil).

It also appears that tax incen­tives have now become a bar­gain­ing chip for the data cen­tre indus­try  to use to cre­ate com­pe­ti­tion between regions and local­i­ties. In an edi­to­r­i­al writ­ten in The Detroit News as tax breaks were being con­sid­ered by the state leg­is­la­ture, one data-com­pa­ny CEO wrote “If Michi­gan doesn’t pass the leg­is­la­tion, it means we can’t come to Michi­gan because our clients won’t and the rea­son is sim­ple: More than 20 oth­er states have passed the same set of data cen­ter tax poli­cies being con­sid­ered in Michi­gan” (Kramer). There is lit­tle new in this race-to-the-bot­tom dis­course, but in pre­vi­ous eras cities and regions could poten­tial­ly expect jobs to be cre­at­ed and that some of capital’s return to an area could be invest­ed in labour.

More philo­soph­i­cal­ly, as a geo­g­ra­ph­er, I’ve been influ­enced by schol­ars such as David Har­vey and Neil Smith, who have the­o­rized cap­i­tal­ist devel­op­ment as inher­ent­ly uneven across time and space; thus, boom and bust and growth and decline are two sides of the same coin. The impli­ca­tion here is that the land­scapes we con­struct to serve the needs of today are always tem­po­rary. The smells of but­ter­nut bread defined part of every­day life in Wash­ing­ton Park for near­ly a cen­tu­ry. Today data is in the ascen­dan­cy, con­struct­ing land­scapes suit­able to its needs. Yet those land­scapes will also be imper­ma­nent. What remains com­mon over time, how­ev­er, is that peo­ple strug­gle over the tra­jec­to­ries of that uneven devel­op­ment.

Stud­ies of infra­struc­ture remind us that telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and trans­port tech­nolo­gies have always been polit­i­cal. Remem­ber­ing that peo­ple strug­gled to exer­cise some mod­icum of demo­c­ra­t­ic con­trol over the changes wrought by rail­road net­works and tele­coms offers impor­tant insights for strug­gles around con­tem­po­rary net­works of com­put­ing. For exam­ple, in Banks’ bril­liant essay on the con­ti­nu­ities between rail­roads and the Inter­net, he notes that because rail­roads were once so cen­tral to every­day life, in the U.S. they became reg­u­lat­ed as “com­mon car­ri­ers,” a legal des­ig­na­tion that pro­hib­it­ed price goug­ing and dis­crim­i­na­tion but also allowed local publics to make demands on this pri­vate infra­struc­ture (2015). Many of these demands sim­ply pro­vid­ed that trains stop in par­tic­u­lar towns so pas­sen­gers could get off and buy goods and ser­vices ("Lines of Pow­er"). The city of Low­ell, Mass­a­chu­sets even required rail com­pa­nies to run their tracks right to fac­to­ry doors. Oth­er groups, such as Native Amer­i­cans, some south­ern­ers loy­al to the Con­fed­er­a­cy, and many elites tried to block the expan­sion of rail­roads alto­geth­er. In Chica­go in 1897, an armed mob marched on City Hall and suc­cess­ful­ly pre­vent­ed the exten­sion of Charles Tysen Yerkes’ monop­oly con­tract on the city’s urban rail net­work.  In all of these cas­es, Banks reminds us that these groups were not attempt­ing to return to some pre-rail­road past, but to exert “con­trol over the con­tours and con­texts of con­nec­tion” (Banks).

Like­wise, today the web is an almost inescapable part of every­day life, even for those with­out access.  Yet it was only in Feb­ru­ary of 2015 that the U.S. des­ig­nat­ed Inter­net ser­vice providers as “com­mon car­ri­ers,” thus pre­vent­ing them, like pre­vi­ous publics did of the rail­roads, from oper­at­ing a “tiered” Inter­net that blocks, throt­tles, or pri­or­i­tizes spe­cif­ic con­tent over oth­ers (Banks).  Thus the democ­ra­ti­za­tion of net­work infra­struc­ture con­tin­ues to be fought, as the debate over “net neu­tral­i­ty” indi­cates, and var­i­ous groups are con­tribut­ing to alter­na­tive visions of what ubiq­ui­tous com­put­ing might look like. For exam­ple, instead of con­tract­ing with Inter­net ser­vice providers who oper­ate a near monop­oly in most cities, as Yerkes did with trains in Chica­go, over 100 U.S. cities are cur­rent­ly seek­ing to build out munic­i­pal­ly owned and oper­at­ed Inter­net ser­vices that pri­or­i­tize low-cost, speed, and access to under­served com­mu­ni­ties (Nguyen). Ethno­graph­ic work that gets up close to the ways in which peo­ple strug­gle to carve out con­trol over tech­nolo­gies, com­bined with the kind of his­tor­i­cal view that Banks pro­vides, cre­ates a pow­er­ful lens through which to cap­ture the his­tor­i­cal con­di­tions from which phe­nom­e­na such as the smart city emerge.

In sum, think­ing about com­put­ing and big data as phys­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal phe­nom­e­na helps to con­tex­tu­al­ize the rapid social and tech­no­log­i­cal change tak­ing place with­in space and time, rather than view­ing this shift as a move­ment towards a kind of inevitable end state. For media schol­ars and oth­ers, the goal of much recent work seems to be to open up dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and net­works and the black-box­es of new socio-tech­ni­cal for­ma­tions in an effort to make these for­ma­tions more bot­tom-up, respon­sive, and inclu­sive (Jef­frey and Levin; Mat­tern). The vignettes dis­cussed here are intend­ed to show the lay­ers of his­to­ry and pol­i­tics embed­ded with­in our every­day tech­nolo­gies. Visu­al­ly rec­og­niz­ing these lay­ers by study­ing build­ings serves, even in a small way, to make the smart city and the dig­i­tal present less abstract and more ground­ed the every­day spaces of con­tem­po­rary life.

Works Cited

1547 Real­ty. Mid­way Tech­nol­o­gy Cen­ter, 1547re​al​ty​.com/​d​a​t​a​c​e​n​t​e​r​s​/​c​h​i​c​a​g​o​-​il/. Accessed 7 Sep­tem­ber 2017.

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