U of M Northrop Reopens After Renovation
After five years of planning, design and renovation, the curtain will rise this weekend on the University of Minnesota's historic Northrop. The iconic arts and entertainment venue is returning as the academic and cultural center of the Twin Cities' campus.
Of the stunning new space, University President Eric Kaler said, "It's pretty hard to take such a recognizable building - a true centerpiece of our campus - and transform it so perfectly, but that's what occurred.
"This is a spectacular monument for interdisciplinary education, academic excellence and world-class performance. I want to personally thank the state legislature and private and corporate donors for their gracious investments. This is a historic moment for the University and our community."
Originally constructed in 1929 and named after the University's second president, Cyrus Northrop, the venue has been a campus and community icon for decades. Used primarily for fine arts performances and commencement ceremonies, a strong desire for Northrop to become a multi-use, daily-use facility developed over the years.
The University Board of Regents approved the renovation of the classic building and University leaders, HGA Architects and Engineers, and JE Dunn Construction teams broke ground on the $88.2 million project in February 2011.
Many historical aspects of the building, including Memorial Hall, were preserved. The new venue also provides a space for inter-disciplinary collaboration and innovation, along with a technologically advanced, top-of-the-line performing arts space.
"A number of promoters, performers and musicians who have worked in the 'old' Northrop have been through the new building to plan future events," said Northrop director Christine Tschida. "The reaction is usually the same: First the jaw drops, then the eyes widen - for some they even tear up - and then they simply say, 'amazing'. It's clear this will not only be a wonderful place for audiences to see and hear work, but it's also clear that it will be a joy to perform here."
The Carlson Family Stage, which was formerly the cavernous central auditorium, boasts 2,700 seats, superior acoustics and sightlines, and state-of-the-art technologies. The Best Buy Theater, a brand-new presentation space that offers a more intimate 168-seat hall, will be used for events from lectures to film showings. Additionally, a café and gallery space adds opportunities for the campus community and public.
"The skill and craftsmanship of the men and women who worked on this project is extraordinary," said Vice President for University Services Pam Wheelock. "They met every challenge with working in an iconic, 85-year-old building and their work was every bit as artistic as the performers who will be on the stage. Hats off to Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, the project architects, JE Dunn Construction, and all of the trade men and women who worked on the project."
Center for Academic Collaboration
The new Northrop highlights three University-wide signature programs - the University Honors Program, the Institute for Advanced Study and the College of Design's new Travelers Innovation Lab - and will be a campus hub for discovery and a center for student life.
"These programs are springboards for the teaching and learning collaborations that are so important in the modern university," said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Karen Hanson. "The renewed Northrop reflects the University's vigorous commitment to enhancing both undergraduate and graduate education, as well as our commitment to community engagement. Northrop will help us fulfill our mission as a great land-grant research university."
Northrop Inside Out Grand Reopening Gala
This evening kicks off with a public performance of the prestigious American Ballet Theatre in Giselle, accompanied by a live orchestra. Since its launch in 1939, American Ballet Theatre is recognized as one of the great dance companies in the world. Principal company members Paloma Herrera and Jared Matthews will play the roles of Giselle and Albrecht, respectively, on Friday night, followed by Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside on Saturday evening, and Hee Seo and Jared Matthews at the Sunday matinee.
Over 2,000 guests are expected for this evening's gala performance.
Following tonight's ballet performance,the U of M Marching Band will perform and lead University leaders, donors, faculty, staff, students and the public into the lobby for a post-show dessert reception featuring live music by Davina and the Vagabonds. Meanwhile, a dance party with live DJ will begin in heated tents on the west lawn, continuing until midnight. Tickets to the After Dark dance party are available for purchase at the U of M Tickets and Events office until 11:30 p.m. this evening.
The newly commissioned Northrop Fanfare will debut tonight, as well. The composition, by U of M sophomore Spencer Brand, was selected from a pool of student submissions. Brand, a trumpet performance major in the U's School of Music, is from Alexandria, Minn.
Additional performances of Giselle are scheduled for Saturday, April 5 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 6 at 2 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.northrop.umn.edu/events/all or call the Northrop Box Office at (612) 624-2345.
Northrop programming will be dynamic and varied, offering premiere fine arts presentations, as well as shows and events geared specifically toward students. Some highlights include: CollegeHumor Live (April 10), selected showings from the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (April 1-19), A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor (April 26), Echoes of History: Osmo Vänskä & the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra (May 2), the Institute for Advanced Study's Space, Body, Sound film series (April 8-May 6), The University Honors Program's River Features (April 16) and Move Live on Tour featuring Julianne and Derek Hough (July 9).
For a complete schedule of events, ticketing and student discount information, visit http://www.northrop.umn.edu/events/all.