Foxconn’s giant glass dome in Wisconsin is back, baby

Foxconn never does anything in Wisconsin without first announcing, canceling, and then announcing it again. So right on schedule, the company has refiled plans to build a network operations center (NOC) in the shape of a giant glass dome.

The dome, which will contain both the NOC and an auditorium, was initially revealed in early September — but Foxconn yanked the plans on literally the same day, and didn’t comment on whether the dome would come back. Now it’s back — Foxconn apparently reworked the plans for the data center next to the dome to make it a more permanent structure.

“The glass dome structure is largely the same; what they did do was flesh out the design for the related server building,” Sam Schultz, community development director for Mount Pleasant, told the Racine Journal Times.

Sadly, the dome looks nothing like the fantastical concept video rendering of the campus Foxconn first released last year — a video that was quietly pulled from Foxconn’s press materials after Wisconsin state representative Gordon Hintz pointed out that several scenes were actually footage of a park in England. It’s still on Mount Pleasant’s YouTube channel, though:

Foxconn first announced plans to build a massive Generation 10 LCD fabrication facility in Wisconsin, only to cancel those plans and then finally agree to build a smaller Gen 6 LCD fab after a personal call from President Trump to then-Foxconn chairman Terry Gou. The million square-foot Gen 6 factory, which is one-twentieth the size of the originally promised fab and about the size of an Amazon warehouse, is currently under construction. However, no customers for the panels it will produce have been announced, and Wisconsin’s governor says it will only produce 1,500 jobs, not the 13,000 jobs originally promised.

Foxconn has said that it will build automated coffee kiosks and old-school alarm system controls in a different factory on the site, in what an exec called a “high-mix, low-to-medium volume” production strategy. And, of course, the company’s “AI 8K+5G ecosystem” strategy and “innovation centers” around Wisconsin are still a mystery — it’s been 193 days since Foxconn promised a statement or correction regarding The Verge’s reporting that the innovation centers were actually empty.

In related news, Racine County has issued $110 million in bonds to refinance the debt it took on buying land for Foxconn as part of the project — debt that ultimately led to a reduction in the county’s credit rating.

According to Reuters, the prospectus issued with the bonds says “no assurance can be provided as to the specific type, size, scope or generation” of Foxconn’s factory. But at least Wisconsin is getting a giant new dome.

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