1987: New Below-Ground Courtyard Blossoms #throwbackthursdays


When the project started in 1987, it was difficult to visualize much more than a great deal of gravel and concrete as one peered into the excavation at the northeast corner of the Mayo Building.

But a year later, the same corner became the below-ground centerpiece of a redesigned subway court, complete with a sunken lounge, a new patient coffee shop and a design motif linking the court to a three-story, glass-encased atrium in the new Education Building.

The subway project added 18,000 square feet of patient-support space to the medical center. It included new subways between Mayo and other new downtown construction—the Kahler Corp.’s Rochester Plaza Hotel and the city’s Center Place office building.

The subway court’s design used an “alluvial plain” motif. The design elements simulated features found at the bed of a river or stream, including water, vegetation, and various strata of silt, clay, sand, and gravel. Thus, stone of various tones, green plants and a pool combined to capture the riverbed theme.


Street-level improvements included construction of a new outdoor courtyard on the Mayo Building’s northeast corner. It contained a paved walking path, grassy space and sitting areas interspersed among a series of 10 angular skylights that illuminated the patient lounge below.

Other project features included new patient restrooms with special highly accessible facilities for handicapped patients, an open-air coffee shop separated from a sunken patient lounge by planters and a graphic barrier, and a quiet lounge.

Kelley Luedke

Kelley Luedke

Kelley Luedke is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her kitty, and exploring new foods.