Repair bill for Northrop comes to $10M

The University of Minnesota is looking at a $10 million-plus repair bill for storm-damaged Northrop Auditorium, but officials say insurance will cover much of the cost.

On Friday, the university’s Board of Regents approved a $10.1 million capital budget amendment to repair damage caused by “excessive ice and snow buildup on the upper east roof” of Northrop, a historically significant building on the Twin Cities campus.

Snow and ice from a Jan. 11 storm “pushed over” the parapet wall of the building’s upper roof, which caused the wall to fall 80 feet onto a lower roof, according to the university. The roof membrane and three district cooling towers were damaged.

“These cooling towers provide much needed year-round cooling to the entire campus district north of Washington Avenue, including buildings housing ongoing research,” the university said in a project narrative.

Jake Ricker, the university’s director of public relations, said in an email that work will begin Tuesday and “we anticipate the project will be completed by this fall.”

“We had no expectations regarding possible cost, considering we knew working at the top of a tall, iconic and historic structure would be different from more typical projects on campus,” Ricker added. “Fortunately, insurance will cover a significant portion of the cost for this work.”

The project budget includes roughly $8 million in construction and $2 million in non-construction costs, said the university, which is working with HGA Architects and J.E. Dunn on the project.

Workers will replace the east and west parapet walls on the upper roof, repair two cooling towers and replace one cooling tower, replace the lower east roof, install snow guards on the upper roof, and repair damaged interior spaces, among other fixes.

Forensic work “suggested it is prudent” to rebuild the west parapet wall to similar standards as the east wall, Myron Frans, the university’s senior vice president for finance and operations, said at a Board of Regents committee meeting last week.

“That expense is one that the university would incur outside of the insurance claim to protect the building and other infrastructure for the long term,” Frans said.

Named after the university’s second president, Northrop was built for about $1.3 million and debuted in 1929. The 170,000-square-foot building has hosted everything from rock concerts to graduation ceremonies.

In the past 16 years, the university has spent more than $100 million on the building. An $88 million renovation was completed in 2014, and a $15 million exterior improvement wrapped up in 2007.

RELATED: Top Projects: University of Minnesota Northrop Auditorium


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