• Mortenson Construction

    Sanford Fargo Medical Center

    Fargo, North Dakota, United States

Project Summary


Mortenson Construction was selected by Sanford Health to design and build its medical center—the seventh largest healthcare construction project in the United States and the largest commercial construction project in North Dakota. Consisting of a 1-million-square-foot building complex set on a 109-acre site in Fargo, North Dakota, the USD 500 million project presented the challenge of building on soil not conducive to heavy loads because of its location in the ancient Agassiz lakebed.


Mortenson met the 30-month project schedule by using an integrated delivery model that calls for innovative logistics planning and attention to the finest details in cross-discipline, vertical-to-horizontal collaboration. The Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) approach using MicroStation, Bentley Map, InRoads, and OpenRoads enhanced communication and decision-making, enabling civil work and building construction teams to find time-saving solutions to the site challenges.


After completing an in-depth study and pricing exercise, the project team learned that maximum efficiency for the project would be in reducing the footprint drastically and going vertical, a rare scenario for a site where plenty of land is available. The exercise shaved tens of millions of dollars from the final project cost and helped to better inform the geotechnical exploration on the project. Upon completion in 2016, the trauma 1 medical center will serve a three-state region with 384 beds and 32 operating rooms.


Bentley software's interoperability played a critical role in enabling the cross-platform collaboration at the core of the VDC approach. MicroStation and InRoads helped the team create the innovative design for a mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) wall around the perimeter of the building, which proved to be a huge time-saving decision. The capability to integrate the MSE design with dozens of trades and achieve buy-in from the entire project team produced significant cost savings.

  • Georeferenced models allowed the civil construction team to use machine-controlled grading techniques that significantly reduced the time to complete the earth moving operations.
  • Each stage of construction was modeled and fully coordinated among key stakeholders, saving time by allowing any conflicts and decisions to be resolved early in the construction phase.
  • A federated model delivered upon turnover will provide a database of information to assist in operations, and as-builts to assist in maintenance.
  • “An ‘all in’ Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) approach on the project has led to the necessity of all players to communicate effectively amongst disciplines and software platforms. Bentley software's interoperability has played a critical role in enabling cross platform collaboration that is unrivaled by the other software solutions used on the project.”

    Sera Maloney, PE Director of Integrated Construction Mortenson Construction