Vice President Joe Biden headed up a groundbreaking ceremony this week for Steven Holl Architects' John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts expansion, a $100 million design that will add rehearsal and education space to the Washington, D.C. institution. Paying homage to Edward Durell Stone's design for the Kennedy Center, the NYC-based firm created an expansion that responds to the river landscape while preserving the silhouette of the current building. The ceremonial event took place nearly 50 years to the day that President Lyndon B. Johnson broke ground on the original Kennedy Center in 1964.
Located amidst the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, the Kennedy Center stands as an equally magnificent structure and a “living memorial” for John F. Kennedy. Rather than replicate Edward Durell Stone’s ornamental style, Steven Holl’s expansion comprises three asymmetrical pavilions carefully sited on a new waterfront park south of the existing facility. The light-filled pavilions feature lofty ceilings and will provide rehearsal rooms and classrooms, a lecture hall, multipurpose meeting rooms, and an event space.
The new expansion will also restore the Kennedy Center’s access to the Potomac River, the Rock Creek trail, and the Georgetown waterfront through the new landscape. In addition to its varied and symbolic gardens, the landscape will provide flexible and intimate outdoor performance spaces. One of the pavilions will also have an exterior wall that can be used for video projections and simulcasts of the Kennedy Center performances. The expansion is slated for completion in 2017.