Images by Halkin/Mason Photography LLC


Essentia Health, St. Mary’s Medical Center


Duluth, Minn.



On the bluffs above the western shore of Lake Superior, Essentia Health has constructed a new flagship hospital that streamlines services, redefines the continuum of care and invigorates downtown Duluth, Minn., with engaging public amenities. The new facility is not only the largest hospital in northern Minnesota — it also demonstrates Essentia Health’s dedication to the well-being of its patients, the economic health of the community and the work environment of its staff.

St. Mary’s Medical Center consolidates Essentia Health’s facilities, challenges contemporary health care design strategies and improves efficiency and the delivery of state-of-the-art health care. Additionally, the new facility creates a nexus for downtown recreation, economic revitalization and visionary health care services for the people of Duluth. 

The hospital’s interior environment is comfortable, welcoming and efficient for patients, visitors and staff. Public areas have the engaging warmth of hospitality spaces, with natural materials and themes of healing, nature and the rich narrative of the region’s history and people.

The new health care campus provides spectacular views of Lake Superior by taking advantage of the sloping topography that rises from the waterfront. The project combines the renovation of multiple existing health care facilities and a major new inpatient and outpatient building that extends down a hillside to the city’s major commercial and entertainment center.

At the main entrance of the new inpatient facility, visitors access the grand public lobby, a restaurant, retail amenities and a Benedictine chapel as well as a conference center. 

The major public pedestrian circulation spine runs along the perimeter of the building, allowing for dramatic views of the cityscape and waterfront. Elevators transport patients and visitors to the various medical programs and support functions and to the main clinic lobby located 110 feet from the main hospital entry level and two full city blocks to the south.

Patients and visitors access the roof garden at the southern roof overlooking Lake Superior. Serving as both a patch of green in the urban landscape and a means of absorbing stormwater, the roof garden is a serene place for downtown office workers, hospital personnel, patients and visitors to relax and enjoy the view. 

The Superior Street entrance provides an active and dynamic presence for Essentia Health on the city’s most vibrant street, contributing to the expanding urban vitality of downtown Duluth.

A multistory inpatient bed tower rises above the roof garden and serves as a beacon signifying the presence of state-of-the-art health care services and Essentia’s commitment to the economic vitality of the city and the region.

WANT TO BE FEATURED? Visit the American Society for Health Care Engineering's Architecture for Health Showcase to learn more about participating.