$92.5 million renovation of historic Tate to add state-of-the-art labs and classrooms

Just about every University of Minnesota alumnus remembers taking at least one class in the historic Tate Laboratory of Physics. Now, students will make new memories in a building equipped with state-of-the-art labs and classrooms after a major renovation is completed in fall 2017.

The $92.5 million Tate Science and Teaching renovation will turn obsolete labs and antiquated classrooms into vibrant, flexible spaces that will bolster instruction, research, and support services, while preserving the building’s architectural character as part of the Northrop Mall Historic District.

“I was a student here in the 1980s, and while I was a bit younger then, Tate was already pretty old,” said University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler at the groundbreaking ceremony. “I’m very pleased that it’s about to be transformed.”

Originally built in 1926 with two additions in the 1960s, Tate is a prominent building on the University of Minnesota Northrop Mall. When completed, Tate will become home to the Newton Horace Winchell School of Earth Sciences and the School of Physics and Astronomy.

A new beginning

Upon its reopening, more than 2,000 students will take classes in Tate each day. The 230,000-square-foot-building will include 29 teaching labs for physics and astronomy courses and four teaching labs for earth sciences courses. In addition, the building will include 26 research labs—10 for physics and astronomy and 16 for earth sciences. The building will house approximately 350 faculty, post-doctorates, graduate students, and visiting researchers.

Highlights will include the new Van Vleck auditorium, which will serve as a main location for classes and public events. A four-story atrium with skylight will be added in the center of the space, and the historic rooftop observatory will be restored and improved, providing more space for public viewings of the night sky.

“Renovation of Tate was a key step in the facilities plan that is part of the College of Science and Engineering’s plan for growth,” said University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering Dean Steven L. Crouch. “This new state-of-the-art building will make a significant impact in advancing research and educating the next generation of high-tech workers.”

The 2014 Minnesota Legislature approved $56.7 million for the renovation, the standard two-thirds of the project cost. The University is responsible for the remaining $35.8 million and fundraising to help offset a portion of that commitment. A giving fund has been established for the project. Visit give.umn.edu and search "Tate Building Renovation Fund."

The University has chosen Alliiance as the building renovation architect and J.E. Dunn Construction as the general contractor.

The public can watch the construction on the live webcam at z.umn.edu/tatewebcam.

function TimerSwitch(pic) {


var timer = setTimeout(function() { SwitchPic(pic) }, 120000);


function SwitchPic(pic) {

pic.src = "https://cse.umn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/connection.png";



This is a live image of the Tate Science and Teaching renovation from the rooftop of the Mechanical Engineering Building looking west over Church Street.