Since opening in November 1929, Northrop Auditorium has served the University of Minnesota as a venue for music, dance, traveling roadshows, and convocations in its auditorium. Although not officially on the National Register of Historic Places, the building is register-eligible. Thus Historic Preservation authorities scrutinize any modifications proposed and made to the historic structure.
The auditorium originally seated roughly 4,800 patrons for concerts. Sight lines from the upper balcony, however, were compromised by very long distances from seats to stage. Acoustically, the auditorium was also compromised in a concession to seat count. In order to bring new life to the aging facility, the auditorium was reinvented from 2009 to 2014. The interior of the building was gutted, with the exception of the Historic Preservation Zones that were established at the project outset, which included the Memorial Hall lobby and staircases accessing the upper three floors of the facility. The proportions of the auditorium were significantly revised, narrowing the space and adding verticality. The original single deep balcony was removed and replaced with three balconies.