Northrop Hall Finally Reopens

After three years of renovations, Northrop is now open to the public

Photos from Wikimedia

Photos from Wikimedia

Northrop Hall originally opened in 1929, and since that time it has been one of the focal points of the University of Minnesota campus. Numerous concerts, ballet performances, and lectures have been held there, and its new $88.2 million renovation is a huge addition to campus life and culture. Planning for the new Northrop started about five years ago, and in February of 2011, the extensive renovation began. The new Northrop was opened on April 4 to an evening featuring a performance from the American Ballet Theater and an after-dark dance.

The old Northrop used to be a swanky home to the Minnesota Orchestra and many opera performances, but the inferior acoustics tended to leave patrons wanting more. The new renovation added improved sight lines, state of the art acoustics, and a reduction in seating from 4800 to 2700. Some other additions included three academic departments, a new café, and classrooms and study areas. The amount of public study and collaborative space on the East Bank will increase by 50 percent with the new Northrop, according to the University of Minnesota website.

On April 7, Provost Karen Hanson gave a presentation about the treasured history of Northrop, as well as the new Northrop’s importance to the campus. She said that the new Northrop will be especially important because it will show how integral the arts and humanities are to campus collaborations, and will have singular prominence as a site for public engagement.

“Northrop is resuming, with enhanced vigor, its role as a signature campus and community gathering place,” Hanson said.

Northrop is now home to three university-wide academic programs: the Institute for Advanced Study, the University Honors Program, and the Traveler’s Innovation Lab.

Hanson also said that the new Northrop will bring internationally renowned artists and speakers, including the recent, and controversial, speech given by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Hanson hopes that the new Northrop will serve as a sort of home base for students. “We do hope that all students will spend at least some time here,” Hanson said.