Although it’s dubbed a “Living Memorial” to President Kennedy and plays host to a slew of high-profile events, the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts has been somewhat lackluster in recent years due to its dated Edward Durrell Stone–designed building. But this week the center unveiled preliminary plans to revitalize the institution with a design by Steven Holl Architects. Its cost projection of $100 million is a much more modest figure compared to a $650 million Rafael Viñoly–designed plan that was derailed almost a decade ago by Congress.
Holl’s initial concept proposes the addition of 60,000 square feet through three connected pavilions that would house classrooms, rehearsal space, multipurpose rooms, limited office space, and performance space. The latter is expected to be in the form of a floating pavilion on the Potomac with an outdoor stage. Another major outdoor addition will be a projection wall that will simulcast some of the performances taking place within the Center. All new structures will frame views of the Lincoln Memorial, and will be visually connected to the original building via public gardens and walkways, and the use of the original Center’s primary material of Carrara marble. Translucent Okalux and glass will offer the new spaces an abundance of natural light during the day, and a lantern effect at night.
While a formal plan has yet to be finalized, Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein has already pledged half the estimated cost ($50 million) himself. “I am pleased to pledge these funds as the lead gift to the Kennedy Center expansion project and encourage others to donate to this project,” Rubenstein has stated. “As the federal budget tightens, I hope more Americans will consider including nonprofit federal entities in their own philanthropy as well.” In fact, the plans calls for design and construction costs to be paid for entirely with private funds.
The expansion is slated for groundbreaking in 2016 and completion in 2018. kennedy-center.org/expansionproject