With More Traffic, Facebook Plans to Double Size of Its Oregon Data Center

Having already started building a 147,000 square foot data center in Prineville, Oregon, Facebook is now planning to more than double the size of the facility, adding a 160,000 square foot building shell.

It just announced 500 million monthly active users, most of whom joined in the last couple of years, so the company is adding the server space in case it keeps growing — a likely event, although one that it addresses conservatively in a blog post on the matter from Friday evening. “As business needs dictate, the shell will be built out to accommodate more servers.”

Tom Furlong, Facebook’s director of site operations, provided a few more details about the plan: “To meet the needs of our growing business, we have decided to go ahead with the second phase of the project, which was an option we put in place when we broke ground earlier this year. The second phase should be finished by early 2012.”

The data center was announced this past January, and construction on the first shell began this past spring. Located in an industrial zone of economically-troubled Crook County, the high-desert central Oregon center provides a few special benefits for server hosting. For example, as part of the center’s energy-saving technology, Facebook will be using cold air readily available in the area for much of the year to help cool the servers. The company is also getting a steep discount on power — including renewable and non-renewable power — from an area utility.

And, while data centers don’t typically generate many jobs, Facebook says it expects the center to employee 35 people once it is completed (positions it has already begun hiring). The many headlines about Facebook’s expansion into the area could help the city and surrounding region get other tech companies paying attention. Facebook is also making a point of having a presence in the community, doing things like co-sponsoring a local music event and a pie bake-off.

[Rendering via Facebook.]