A group of Carnegie Melon Researchers published a Siggraph paper on "What makes Paris look like Paris?" When I read this paper and watched the video it reminded me of many of the conversations that some of the top data center people have. Comparing elements of what they see and do with others, discussing what others try and whether it would work in their environment.
Last year a bunch of us went to visit some top financial data center executives and toured their facilities. We could find elements of the power, mechanical and other systems that told us who designed the building and how it compared to their building.
One of the insights from the paper is that the famous landmarks are not what make the look and feel of the city, but the stylistic elements.
So, what makes Paris look like Paris? We argued that the “look
and feel” of a city rests not so much on the few famous landmarks
(e.g. the Eiffel Tower), but largely on a set of stylistic elements,
the visual minutiae of daily urban life. We proposed a method
that can automatically ﬁnd a subset of such visual elements from
a large dataset offered by Google Street View, and demonstrated
some promising applications.