Arts Desk

This Is What the Kennedy Center Could Look Like in 2017

More renderings of the Kennedy Center's planned $100 million expansion have been filed with the National Capital Planning Commission, and they offer a fuller picture of what the center may look like in 2017.

The new images from Steven Holl Architects include something we haven't seen yet: interior photos of the planned entry pavilion. Kennedy Center spokesman John Dow also points out that one pedestrian bridge to the Potomac River pavilion has been eliminated, leaving just one walkway over Rock Creek Parkway. (Though a bridge-free design is also possible: one rendering shows just an at-grade pedestrian path and no bridge at all.)

The cultural center is still in the process of raising $125 million for the expansion and programming. In December, it announced that it had raised $40 million for the construction project, adding to board Chairman David Rubenstein's $50 million lead gift.

The project is expected to break ground later this year and wrap up in 2017.

From the Kennedy Center's website:

Steven Holl's initial concept for the project includes three connected pavilions that will house classrooms, rehearsal rooms, education for arts managers, lecture space, multipurpose rooms, and limited office space. In the initial concept, one pavilion will float on the Potomac River and offer an outdoor stage. Public gardens will fill out the space, fusing the Kennedy Center with the landscape and river. The exteriors will utilize translucent Okalux, glass, and Carrara marble, the same Italian marble which clads the original facility. The silhouette of the current building will be preserved by connecting the new structure underground and via the main plaza.

2014 February 6 NCPC Presentation

An exterior view of the planned Kennedy Center expansion

2014 February 6 NCPC Presentation

Plans include public gardens, a reflecting pool, and three new pavilions south of the main facility: entry pavilion (closest to main building), Glissando pavilion (center), and the River Pavilion (on water)


An NCPC presentation slide presents two options for access to the River Pavilion

2014 February 6 NCPC Presentation

Interior of entry pavilion


Overall view


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  • Rik

    Lousy awkward design, poor use of the site, lots of space wasted, and that floating pavilion is nonsensical

  • Nathaniel Martin

    The design looks elegant, but I wish it were more ambitious. I think it's fair to say that no one in Washington feels overly protective of the Edward Durell Stone building. Many of us were hoping that the addition would be more transformative - a great (possibly highly sculptural) counterpoint to Stone's "tissue box." Of course, the proof of the project will be whether it can successfully help the complex engage the waterfront. If so, it may have done all it needs to do.

  • Larry Cook

    I fondly recall last year's terrific Nordic Cool projections.

  • Kevin J. Parker

    Ah, the Kennedy Center! As a District native and a non-car owner, I always have found getting to the KC a pain in the neck. Of course, I am happy that it even exists, but wouldn't it make more sense to try to put more theater in a more accessible, centrally located place? This was a concept originally proposed back in the early 60s, but was abandoned.

    The KC isn't exactly an architectural masterpiece -- as one other comment noted, it has a very "tissue" box look. It's time to get out of Foggy Bottom!