Kennedy Center plans $100m project

WASHINGTON — The Kennedy Center announced Tuesday that it plans to build a $100 million expansion to the nation’s busiest performing arts venue. Designed by American architect Steven Holl, the privately funded project would help connect the multitheater complex with Washington’s waterfront and includes public green spaces, a video projection wall for simulcast productions, and a floating outdoor stage on the Potomac River.

The new plan, which pays tribute in its architectural detail to President John F. Kennedy, includes three pavilions to house classrooms, rehearsal facilities, and multipurpose rooms for the center’s educational programs. The expansion, south of the 42-year-old complex, aims to solve some of the most pressing space constraints for a facility that hosts some 2,000 performances each year.

Kennedy Center chairman David Rubenstein will donate $50 million to the project, the single largest gift in the institution’s history.


‘‘He has funded programming in many ways,’’ said Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center. ‘‘And now also a physical structure.’’

Get Ground Game in your inbox:
Daily updates and analysis on national politics from James Pindell.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The Kennedy Center brings in about 2 million people each year. An additional 1 million tour the complex annually. It serves the dual purposes of bustling arts center and memorial to President John F. Kennedy. And with the 2011 acquisition of the Washington National Opera, which rehearses at a venue in another neighborhood, and the growth of Kaiser’s DeVos Institute of Arts Management, classrooms and rehearsal spaces are needed more than ever.

The proposed design is relatively small — about 60,000 square feet of indoor space — compared with the existing 1.5 million-square-foot complex. The three pavilions would be connected by unobtrusive pathways or underground tunnels. The most ambitious structure is an outdoor stage that would float on the river, rising and falling with the tide. A second pavilion would provide a new entrance to the Kennedy Center on its south side, while the largest pavilion would contain classroom and rehearsal facilities.

Washington Post