Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium, 84 Church Street, South East, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Northrop Memorial Auditorium

Carlson Family Stage
Address: 84 Church Street SE
Neighborhood/s: University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, East Bank, Minneapolis, Minnesota
City/locality-
State/province
Minneapolis, Minnesota
County-
State/province:
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1929
Historic Function: Auditorium/music facility
Current Function: Auditorium/music facility
First Owner: University of Minnesota
Part of the Site: University of Minnesota, East Bank Campus

University, East Bank Minneapolis Hennepin County

Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium, 84 Church Street, South East, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(44.976425° N, 93.235417° WLatitude: 44°58′35.13″N
Longitude: 93°14′7.501″W
)


Contents


Memories and stories

Northrop Memorial Auditorium is one of central buildings of the mall area of University of Minnesota East bank campus in Minneapolis. The auditorium named for Cyrus Northrop, the University’s second president, who served from 1884 until his death in 1911 by President Leroy Burton. There were needs to expand the campus and President Burton wanted to revive the mall idea by Cass Gilbert which was a part of City beautiful movement. When expansion was considered, there was a need to build an auditorium in the campus as students had used limited space of the Armory for student activities. Cass Gilbert's idea was creating a mall from a auditorium up to Mississippi river; in this plan, the auditorium is the center of the university, place for gathering. Though his idea was not adopted when it was proposed, the significance of the Cass Gilbert's plan which was inspired by the layout of the University of Virginia is that his idea became the direction and the reference of the expansion of the campus in decades; his idea changed the trend of university expansion and his plan influenced to the location and the concept of Northrop auditorium.

Before the auditorium was built, the area of University of Minnesota in Minneapolis was just the knoll area and the south of the knoll was blocked by railroads as there were railroads on the north of the knoll area so the university had to negotiate with Northern Pacific railroad for better integration of campus between the knoll and new expanded area for an auditorium it was done in 1922; before, the parcel of the university was just the knoll area. In the same year, there was two million dollars fund raising campaign to build Northrop auditorium and stadium.

The design for Northrop Auditorium was sketched in 1925 by Clarence H. Johnston Sr., Minnesota state architect from 1901 until his death in 1936 and Roman-Renaissance style was chosen as a style of the auditorium and this style became major style of the mall. He was assisted by the University’s Advisory Architect, Frederick Mann, who was responsible for overseeing the sitting and preliminary design of campus buildings. After the design was decided, the construction began on April 30, 1928 and dedicated on October 22 of 1929 as Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium.

Proposed Campus layout of the University of Minnesota, 1931 - Northrop is highlighted
Proposed Campus layout of the University of Minnesota, 1931 - Northrop is highlighted
Map of the University of Minnesota in1908
Map of the University of Minnesota in1908
Aerial view of the mall in 2005
Aerial view of the mall in 2005

The auditorium was located on the site where Cass Gilbert planned, and accessibility became better than he planned as a result of railway removal. However,in 1940, Coffman Memorial Union was opened across Washington avenue hence the basic form of the mall area was structured. The construction of Coffman memorial union meant the loss of having possibility of Mississippi river access from Northrop plaza and the loss of the river view, which Cass Gilbert intended. In 1946, there was first renovation of the space.

In 1970s and 80s, 4th floor of the auditorium was used as Art gallery though it was not proper place for the purpose; this problematic situation was solved as Weisman Art Museum was opened in 1993. Also, there were some interior alterations in 1986 for handicapped people and two ramps were installed in 1991.

Northrop was under renovation second time from 2011 to 2013; it cost $88 million and brought various changes to the building. After the renovation, the auditorium reopened on April 4th of 2014 and it is still functioning as a iconic site of University of Minnesota. Also, according to 2009 Twin Cities Campus Master Plan, the university recognized the mall as a part of the heart of the Minneapolis campus with the Knoll area.

2011~2013 Renovation

In 2007, the Future of Northrop Advisory Committee decided renovation is inevitable to keep the auditorium as “multi-use, daily-use facility.” As a result, the auditorium was under renovation from 2011 to 2013 and 88 millions were spent. The renovation of 21st century changed much of the auditorium's structure; the stage became larger and the seats of the stage changed from 4800 to 2700 and one-large second floor divided to three levels of balcony. Also, top section of second floor, the seats where uncomfortable to see performances on the stage separated to as Best Buy theater, which is suitable for small scale event. Also, the portion of stage in main level was reduced and cut off space converted to waiting and resting spaces which supports events on the stage. The renovation also improved sound and light system of stage as well. Also, before the renovation, the historic arch above the stage was hidden behind sound reflector but it became re-exposed to audience with the assistance of technology. In addition to these changes, loading dock and parking ramps were renovated for accessibility and maintenance purpose.

Overall, the renovation modernized Northrop auditorium but it still preserves traces of the past hence it could be evaluated as conservation. It is the most clear when visitors stands at the main level of the building outside of stage where originally part of stage seats. Outside, Memorial hall preserves the past of auditorium while interior space changed for visitors; however, even in the lobby which is expanded public space as a result of renovation, people can see the traces of the past as the combination of open ceiling up to 3rd floor, rectangular boundaries which were the edge of the stage in the past and the round wall of the stage shows how the stage was big in the past.

Comparsion of floor plans of Northrop, past (Left) and present (Right)
Comparsion of floor plans of Northrop, past (Left) and present (Right)
Vertical cross section of Northrop, past (Above) and present (Below)
Vertical cross section of Northrop, past (Above) and present (Below)
View of main lobby
View of main lobby






Significant events

In 1943, Thirty-six hundred student nurses were inducted into cadet corps at Northrop during World War II. Northrop was the base of Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra from 1929 to 1973, until Orchestra Hall was built. Also, Luciano Pavarotti played as Cavaradossi in Act I of Puccini's "Tosca" by Puccini in 19970 at this auditorium. In May of 1972, "Matrix City," an architectural sculpture by Ronald Orfield and James Yunker, was installed on the Plaza. Also, Northrop was a space for the lecture of Martin Luther King, Jr.

On April 4 of 2014, Giselle by New York's American Ballet Theatre was played as first performance after 2011 renovation. On May 4 of 2014, conductor Osmo Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra performed the re-creation of the October 1929 dedicatory concert for Northrop opening.

Photo Gallery

Memorial hall
Memorial hall


The stage before renovation
The stage before renovation
Mall plan of University of Minnesota
Mall plan of University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota Campus Plan sketch by Cass Gilbert
University of Minnesota Campus Plan sketch by Cass Gilbert
Best Buy Theater
Best Buy Theater


CARLSON FAMILY STAGE, view from stage
CARLSON FAMILY STAGE, view from stage






















Floor plans


Related Links

Official site

Seating charts of CARLSON FAMILY STAGE

Seating charts of Best Buy Theater

Badges

64px}px This place is part of
the ARCH5674 Class Project

References

If Walls Could Talk: A History of Northrop Short, published version

Timeline of Northrop Memorial Auditorium

Campus history maps

University of Minnesota Campus Plan by Cass Gilbert

Plans and Projects of Northrop by Capital planning and Project Management department of University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota Northrop Auditorium Renovation project information from Finance & Commerce

Exhibition: NORTHROP TRANSFORMED (Feb 14, 2015-Jan 3, 2016 Northrop Gallery) Link

The University of Minnesota Preservation Plan

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