The University of Mary has been a staple in the Bismarck community for nearly 60 years. Overlooking the city as well as the Missouri River Valley, the university has become known for academics, hospitality and welcoming atmosphere to everyone, as well as providing beautiful views for miles.

Although the campus supports an environment rich in history and ample space for homework and studying, it lacked a private outdoor structure for staff, students, and visitors to use for prayer and reflection. The University of Mary had a vision to create an area for these activities that would not obstruct the scenery surrounding campus.



In 2017, the University of Mary hired the team of Integration Design Group and KLJ to fulfil their wishes providing this space for everyone through the Marian Grotto. KLJ completed the civil engineering portion of the project which included identifying a site for the project, surveying the land, and designing a layout for the walls and storm drains. Additionally, KLJ designed heated sidewalks to and from the grotto with bench locations and provided the locations and grades for an underground tunnel with direct access to indoor facilities. KLJ helped determined the best location for the Marian Grotto to be built off the southwest corner of the new Lumen Vitae University Center. The design of the Marian Grotto was modeled off Our Lady of Lourdes in France and the design made a nod toward the world-famous architect, Marcel Breuer, who designed the campus, by incorporating his use of fieldstone into the structure to make the appearance of it being cobbled together.




The Marian Grotto project was completed on schedule and was ready for the 2017 grand opening of the Lumen Vitae University Center, the Marion Grotto, and the Gift Hill Memorial. The project met and exceeded the University of Mary’s vision of a beautiful new structure that would provide everyone the opportunity to experience the peaceful setting of the quiet, lighted grotto, with views all around.

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