Mayo Clinic Subway Refresh Project

Oct 7, 2019 | Rebecca Hynes | @hynesrebecca


The following communication was sent to Mayo Clinic staff announcing a subway refresh project. This exciting project will begin soon! As volunteers, we are providing you with the same announcement, so you have information to assist Mayo Clinic’s patients and visitors, as well. We will continue to share updates with you as we learn more. If you would have any questions, please connect with a Mayo Clinic Volunteer Programs' staff member.

Project Communication

Whether you want to escape from inclement weather, or are tired of dodging traffic and waiting for walk signs, Mayo's pedestrian subway system provides a convenient way to help you get to your destination in downtown Rochester. Now this underground network of corridors and adjacent common areas will get a major facelift.

Creating a more inviting experience for patients and staff

A yearlong project, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 1, will bring major improvements to the subway system with:

  • More light
  • Inviting decor that incorporates the Mayo Clinic values
  • New amenities, such as smoother flooring and new seating areas where patients and visitors can rest between appointments

"Our patients come to us with different levels of mobility, so smoother flooring on ramps will make it easier for families to push loved ones in wheelchairs. And more seating in long corridors will provide welcome places to rest," says Stephanie Hurt, chair of the Division of Support Services. "The upgrades will make our patients' and visitors' time with Mayo Clinic easier and more enjoyable."

In addition, dining experiences and options will be upgraded:

  • The courtyard adjacent to the corridor connecting the Mayo and Hilton buildings will be enclosed to add a coffee kiosk and seating. This will allow patients to buy a drink and snack after completing fasting lab tests nearby.
  • The Siebens Patient Cafeteria will be upgraded to a patient-friendly service model that delivers orders to the table.

"To lead in health care and to truly be in a category of one, we must provide an exceptional experience in every way," says Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., Mayo Clinic's president and CEO. "Patients' experience is shaped by many factors — from their care and communications with staff, to their environment — and the subway is one of many patients' first interactions with Mayo Clinic. Also, thousands of Mayo Clinic staff use the subway daily, so it will be a joy for patients, visitors and staff to be in surroundings that are beautiful, filled with light, and designed around everyone's comfort and needs. I'm excited to watch the transformation happen."

Upgrades by zone

The upgrades will occur in a phased approach in six zones. One master schedule will be used to coordinate the work and minimize disruptions during construction.

Here are the upgrades that you can expect in each area:

  • Zone 1: Mayo-Harwick staff corridor and Baldwin-Guggenheim patient area
    This area will receive improved lighting and acoustics, modern finishes, and displays of Mayo values and staff photography.
  • Zone 2: Wanek Family Concourse, Mayo Subway
    This area will receive more seating options, electronic device plug-ins, new lighting and modern finishes, wheelchair-friendly flooring, and an updated peregrine falcon exhibit.
  • Zone 3: Mayo-Hilton Subway and Courtyard
    This area will receive an enclosed courtyard with seating and a coffee kiosk, improved lighting, wheelchair-friendly flooring, and refreshed artwork.
  • Zone 4: Damon Ramp Subway
    This area will receive updated restrooms by the elevators, new lighting and modern finishes, improved wayfinding, and additional seating.
  • Zone 5: Siebens Patient Cafeteria and Subway
    This area will be transformed into an open design featuring a new service model with tableside delivery, a new dining menu, lounging and high-top seating, updated food and coffee stations, and wheelchair-friendly flooring.
  • Zone 6: Hilton Atrium and Desk C
    The atrium will be brightened with modern design, and the area will receive a new seating arrangement, an updated check-in desk design, and improved routing of foot traffic.

Signage in each zone will provide directions, information and a sneak peek at the finished spaces.

View a video slideshow to see how these areas will look when construction is complete. This video does not have sound.

How to help patients, visitors during construction

Because this project is highly visible across Mayo Clinic in Rochester, you are strongly encouraged to direct patients and visitors to information about the ongoing work.

An article on the Mayo Clinic News Network will be updated regularly as the project progresses. Visitors to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, as well as the Travel, Lodging and Maps page, also will be directed to this article.

These talking points will help you communicate with patients who may have questions (for additional tips for assisting patients, please see the Patient Experience handout):

  • We are making significant upgrades to the Rochester pedestrian subway.
  • The improvements will make the subway lighter and brighter, and will include new wall and floor coverings, seating areas, and amenities.
  • All zones will be completed by December 2020.
  • Thank you for your patience as we improve the experience for patients and visitors.

Questions and answers

Learn more with these questions and answers:

Why is Mayo updating the Rochester downtown pedestrian subway?

The physical environment is an important aspect of how patients, visitors and staff experience and feel about Mayo Clinic. The upgrades are designed to greatly enhance that experience for everyone through lighter, brighter spaces with innovative seating arrangements, more convenient dining options, and inspirational artwork and wall installations. It's a way to bring joy and also ensure Mayo Clinic is in a category of one when patients are making their health care choices.

How long will it take to complete?

The construction will start the first week of November and will take place in phases across six zones. All phases will be completed by December 2020. Some zones will have construction at the same time, and a master schedule will be used to coordinate the work across zones.

What does the project include?

The project includes upgrades to six zones, including the Mayo-Harwick staff corridor, the Baldwin-Guggenheim patient area, the Wanek Family Concourse, the Mayo-Hilton Subway and Courtyard, the Damon Subway, the Siebens Patient Cafeteria, and the Hilton Atrium and Desk C. For details and renderings, see the video slideshow.

When were those subway zones last updated?

Zone 1 is original construction from the 1970s. The Baldwin and Harwick buildings, and the Mayo staff elevator lobby, were updated in the 1990s. Updates occurred in Zone 2 in 2006, 2011 and 2017; zones 3 and 4, in the 2000s; Zone 5, in 2007; and Zone 6, in 2010.

Why is this being prioritized over other potential projects?

Patients' experiences are shaped by many factors, from their care and interactions with staff to the physical environment of their surroundings. The subway is one of patients' first experiences with Mayo Clinic. In addition, Mayo Clinic staff use the subway, and improving their environment can be a source of joy.

Will other segments of the subway be upgraded?

While not in the scope of this project, future upgrades of other subway segments will be evaluated.

What will happen to artwork displayed in the zones?

Artwork could remain, be taken off view or possibly replaced.

How will Mayo manage patient and visitor navigation, and questions?

Information will be posted along the construction sites, as well as on and the Mayo Clinic News Network, and at patient kiosks. Staff and volunteers are asked to use the prepared talking points with patients and visitors. These talking points, in the attached document, are being shared with staff, volunteers and visitors.

Thank you,

Mayo Clinic Volunteer Programs staff

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