As Essentia Health's $900 million Vision Northland project was planned, one of their top concerns was bird safety.  A key decision was made to use special glass to help protect them.

Essentia says Duluth serves as an important bird-migration route and birds are often unable to see transparent or reflective glass that is prevalent in large buildings.  When it came to their new 15-story hospital tower and 8-story clinic tower, they wanted to do what they could to help prevent birds from striking the new facilities.

Therefore, the decision was made to use fritted glass on both buildings.  A "frit” is a ceramic layer with lines, dots or another pattern which breaks up the reflectivity of the glass and makes it visible to birds. They recognize there is a solid object in front of them and will avoid flying into it.

Some of the first panels on the clinic tower have been revealed. Crews have been busy installing the panels, which are 56.5 inches wide and 17 feet tall, since January 20, and will be doing so for the next year.

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Essentia Health says they solicited advice from birding experts to incorporate best practices. Another thing being done to help protect birds includes designing evening and night lighting in a way that not only will reduce bird collisions, but also skyglow and light trespass.

“At different times throughout the year, we are reminded how important our migratory bird populations are in Duluth,” said Kris Henry, senior advisor for Vision Northland at Essentia. “The fritted glass will not only offer a beautiful and distinctive look to the Duluth skyline, but will also protect the many species of birds as they migrate through our area on the shores of Lake Superior.”


They add that another benefit of the fritted glass, pictured in detail below, is that it supports the new hospital’s “green” mission by minimizing solar heat gain and light pollution.

When U.S. Bank Stadium was built in Minneapolis, they took a lot of heat for not using glass that would at least try to prevent birds from striking.  My sister Judy, who was a lifelong Vikings fan who also happens to work with birds - even handling bald eagles at sporting events, quit supporting the team based on that decision. They have since tried to do some things to deal with the issue, but using the proper glass from the beginning would've been best.

It's nice to see Essentia Health take things like this into consideration from the very beginning.

Courtesy of Essentia Health
Courtesy of Essentia Health

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