When the Mayo Clinic's 1.5-million-square-foot Gonda Building was dedicated in October 2001, officials of the Rochester, Minnesota, medical center were not only opening a new “front door” and lobby to the storied institution, but they were also ushering in a new level of patient care.

The existing, 50-year-old Mayo Building, designed as an outpatient clinical facility based primarily on exam rooms, could no longer readily accept diagnostic and treatment spaces related to new functions and technologies. These spaces consequently became widely dispersed, hindering efficient use of staff and equipment and compromising patient convenience.

The Gonda Building reintegrates these clinical practice areas with direct connections to all levels of the existing Mayo Building, which again functions primarily as a clinical exam facility. The buildings together are organized for patient convenience and to encourage integration and collaboration of healthcare professionals. Specialty areas are clustered together for efficiency and ease of movement for patients and staff, creating more seamless episodes of care. Clinical centers include cancer diagnosis and treatment, cardiovascular diseases, vascular medicine, neurosciences, urology, gastroenterology, breast center, interventional, imaging, and sedation center.

The Gonda Building also links on eight levels to the Charlton Building of Rochester Methodist Hospital, a combined 3.5-million square feet of inpatient, clinical research, and outpatient procedure and exam space. This interconnection of clinical facilities is one of the most sophisticated of its kind in the world. The lower level is a central hub of below-grade pedestrian connections to all other medical facilities, as well as hotels and retail in downtown Rochester.

The Gonda Building provides technologic and spatial flexibility for both existing and future advances in diagnostic and treatment modalities. Its highly organized infrastructure has excess capacity and maximum flexibility of all systems, including structure, HVAC, plumbing, electrical communications, and vertical transportation. One of the interesting design challenges included resolving the dynamic movement at the interface of 20 floors of connections between two buildings, 50 years apart with different structures.

Project category: New construction (occupied October 2001; sequential completion of upper floors to mid-2003)

Chief administrator: Hugh C. Smith, CEO, Mayo Clinic Rochester, (507) 284-2511

Firms: Ellerbe Becket, (612) 376-2000; Cesar Pelli Associates, (203) 777-2515

Design team: John Waugh, Project Principal; Jim Mischnick, Project Director; Mike Spence, Project Architect; Steve Wernersbach, Project Engineer (Ellerbe Becket); Mark Shoemaker, Collaborating Design Architect (Cesar Pelli Associates)

Photography: Steve Bergerson; Joel Koyama

Total building area (GSF): 1,614,600

Construction cost/sq. ft.: Not released

Total cost (excluding land): Not released

Clad with white Brazilian granite in an innovative curtain wall framework of brilliant, linen-finished stainless steel and set on a base of white marble, the Gonda Building not only harmonizes with the physical features of the adjacent Mayo and Charlton buildings, but it also links physically via skyways and direct adjacencies. Wave walls of glass soften the transition with the Mayo Building and provide orientation and daylight with a scenic overlook of the historic 1928 Plummer Building.

The Gonda Building Phase I construction of 10 floors was partially occupied in 2001, and began phased-in occupancy in 2002 with complete occupancy by mid-2003. Shell and infrastructure for Phase II, an additional seven clinical floors, were added to be concurrent with phase I construction. The building is structured for a 10-floor Phase III.