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Northrop revitalization approved by U of M Board of Regents

Iconic centerpiece of Twin Cities campus closes Monday, reopens Fall 2013

February 11, 2011

One of Minnesota’s most iconic buildings, the University of Minnesota’s Northrop, will be getting a major overhaul after today’s action by the Board of Regents. The board gave their final approval for the financing package that will transform Northrop into a “vital academic center of distinction and discovery that enlightens, challenges, and engages students, faculty and the community.”

“Built nearly a century ago, Northrop is one of the most enduring symbols of the University of Minnesota,” said President Robert Bruininks. “But the reality has become that most of our students set foot in it once at convocation and once at commencement, with no real need to go there in between. This plan is about much, much more than improving the performance space - it’s about making Northrop into the academic and cultural center of this institution.”

The revitalized Northrop will increase by 50 percent the amount of public study and technology-rich, collaborative space on the Twin Cities campus, serving as a home for:

  • The University Honors Program, which helps recruit and supports 2,400 of the most academically-talented undergraduates from across the university;
  • The Institute for Advanced Study, an incubator where scholars and artists come together from across the University to develop new solutions to pressing issues; and
  • Innovation by Design, a lab where entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and faculty work together to solve big real world problems and bring solutions to market.

Most known for its historic auditorium, the revitalization of Northrop will also restore its preeminent cultural and performing arts center, with a world-class, multi-purpose 2,800 seat hall, featuring state-of-the-art acoustics, significantly improved sight-lines, cutting-edge technologies and updated amenities, including a cafe and coffee bar.

In 2006, Bruininks charged a group of university and community leaders, chaired by Vice President for University Services Kathleen O’Brien and then-Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Steven Rosenstone, to develop a vision for the future of Northrop that supports the U's goal of becoming one of the top public research universities in the world and also to address the increasing obsoleteness of the single-use facility, which is currently used for just 51 events a year. Since opening in 1929, Northrop has served as the university’s primary gathering place for the performing arts, concerts, academic ceremonies and major civic events. It’s named after the U of M’s second president, Cyrus Northrop, who served in that role for 27 years.

“This project isn’t simply renovating a historic building,” said board Chair Clyde Allen. “It’s giving it a larger purpose in the academic and cultural life of this university. All of the options for Northrop were explored, including tearing it down, refurbishing it as-is and simply delaying any action. This plan is the most prudent - and most visionary - course.”

Northrop will close on Monday, February 14, with construction to begin on the 82-year-old facility later this month. The grand re-opening is scheduled for Fall 2013. The $80.8 million project is funded through a combination of Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) funds, private donations, university funds and savings and debt service.

Commencement ceremonies during the construction will mostly be moved to Mariucci Arena. Northrop Concerts and Lectures will continue to present performances during the revitalization phase, in other venues such as the State and Orpheum Theatres. The 2011-12 Northrop Dance season will be announced later this spring.

Visit www.northrop.umn.edu for the most current revitalization information and to subscribe to receive regular email updates.

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One of Minnesota’s most iconic buildings, the University of Minnesota’s Northrop, will be getting a major overhaul after today’s action by the Board of Regents.

Twin Cities Campus: