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A new hospital in Duluth, Minn., is now the region’s largest healthcare facility

Healthcare Facilities

A new hospital in Duluth, Minn., is now the region’s largest healthcare facility

At about 1 million sf, St. Mary’s Medical Center spans two city blocks and overlooks Lake Superior.

By Novid Parsi, Contributing Editor | December 19, 2023
In Duluth, Minn., the new St. Mary’s Medical Center, designed by EwingCole, is now the largest healthcare facility in the region Photo courtesy EwingCole
Photo courtesy EwingCole

In Duluth, Minn., the new St. Mary’s Medical Center, designed by EwingCole, is now the largest healthcare facility in the region. The hospital consolidates Essentia Health’s healthcare services under one roof. 

At about 1 million sf spanning two city blocks, St. Mary’s overlooks Lake Superior, providing views on almost every floor of the world’s largest freshwater lake. All of the hospital’s inpatient rooms enjoy floor-to-ceiling views of the lake or the surrounding hillside. The dining commons and rooftop garden also offer views of Lake Superior.

While the exterior façade’s lower levels resemble the brownstone homes and businesses in downtown Duluth, the glass façade of the upper levels and patient tower evokes the neighboring lake. The building’s fritted glass also reduces solar heat gain inside.

The hospital’s interior aims to eschew traditional clinical design by embracing vibrant colors and nature to aid the healing process. Each floor’s interior design takes inspiration from a natural landscape in Duluth.

The design team constructed and tested a full-scale mockup of the building envelope to detect any air or moisture infiltration that could affect energy performance and indoor air quality. As a result, the team achieved a 24% reduction in energy consumption and a 26% reduction in energy costs.

As part of the project’s sustainability measures, almost 1 million sf of the building’s acoustic ceiling panels were manufactured about a half-hour away, reducing travel time and greenhouse gas emissions. EwingCole also selected a nearby single-source manufacturer of the custom glazing system, decreasing transportation emissions. And the team reduced the building’s embodied carbon by replacing Portland cement with cement substitutes. 

The hospital’s narrow, aerodynamic form eliminates wind turbulence around the entrances and rest areas, minimizes its impact on views to and from the lake, and limits its impact on bird migration. In addition, the design team’s early wind modeling enabled it to refine the structural system so that it required less steel.

On the Building Team: 
Owner: Essentia Health 
Design architect: EwingCole 
Architect of record: EwingCole and LHB 
MEP and structural engineer: EwingCole 
General contractor: McGough


Photo courtesy EwingCole
Photo courtesy EwingCole
Photo courtesy EwingCole
Photo courtesy EwingCole
Photo courtesy EwingCole
Photo courtesy EwingCole
Photo courtesy EwingCole
Photo courtesy EwingCole
Photo courtesy EwingCole
Photo courtesy EwingCole
Photo courtesy EwingCole



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