View of the SAFL building from the river

SAFL was designed and built in the 1930s under the direction of Lorenz G. Straub with funds from the Works Progress Administration and the University of Minnesota. The building was dedicated on November 17, 1938, and the laboratory began its work in hydraulic and river engineering research as part of the Department of Civil Engineering.
Through the years, SAFL has continued to be successful thanks to an unwavering commitment to academic excellence and an ability to lead at the cutting edge of fluid mechanics research, adapting its focus to serve society’s changing needs.
Key milestones in SAFL’s history include:
  • April 2012 - Renovation is launched at SAFL.
  • July 2011 – SAFL expands to become an interdisciplinary research center under the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering.
  • September 2010 – SAFL receives a National Science Foundation (NSF) Academic Research Infrastructure - Recovery and Reinvestment Grant, and Higher Education Asset Preservation and Renewal (HEAPR) funding to renovate laboratory infrastructure and facilities.
  • January 2010 – The Eolos Wind Energy Research Consortium is established at SAFL.
  • 2006 – The Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior in the College of Biological Sciences is added as a SAFL-affiliated department. 
  • January 2006 – Professor Fotis Sotiropoulos is named director of the laboratory (2006-present).
  • 2002 – The National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED), a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center, is established and headquartered at SAFL.
  • 1999 – Professor Efi Foufoula-Georgiou is appointed director of the laboratory (1999-2003).
  • 1996 – The University’s Department of Earth Sciences is added as a SAFL-affiliated department.
  • 1995 – Dr. Gary Parker appointed director of the laboratory (1995-1999 and interim 2004-2005).
  • 1984 - SAFL's Atmospheric Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel comes online.
  • 1977 – Professor Roger Arndt is named director of the laboratory (1977-1993).
  • 1963 - Laboratory expands with the addition of the north floor wing.
  • 1963 – Professor Edward Silberman is appointed director (1963-1974). 
  • 1938 Lorenz Straub, founder of the laboratory, serves as director (1938-1963).
  • November 17, 1938 – St. Anthony Falls Laboratory is dedicated.