Kennedy Center expansion opens in Washington

12 September 2019
  • Richard Barnes
  • Richard Barnes
  • Richard Barnes
  • Richard Barnes
  • Richard Barnes

Steven Holl Architects


Washington, DC

United States

Steven Holl designs 3 new pavilions for performing arts institution

Marking the first expansion at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in its 48-year history, The REACH has welcomed the public with an opening festival involving 1000 artists and 500 free events. Designed by Steven Holl as a home for non-traditional programming with an emphasis on active participation, the three pavilions of the new expansion are intended to host performances that draw visitors directly into the creative process and create new connections between artistic creators. 

The REACH is designed to represent the future of the arts, while acting as a living memorial for President John F. Kennedy. Comprising more than 130,000 sq ft of green space, the surrounding landscape includes a grove of 35 gingko trees acknowledging Kennedy’s position as the 35th US president. A reflecting pool and mahogany landscape deck are built in the same dimensions of Kennedy’s WWII boat, the PT109.

The pavilions shape the outdoor spaces between them, and frame views to the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and Potomac riverfront. Below the largest green roof space in the city - at 69,000 sq ft - the buildings interconnect to expand the Center’s interior space with 72,000 sf of open studios, performance spaces, and arts learning facilities. Simulcast projections of live performances from within the Kennedy Center will be projected onto the north wall of the largest pavilion in front of a broad lawn, while the gardens provide opportunities for casual performances and events.

Deborah F Rutter, Kennedy Center president, stated: “More and more, today’s audiences crave connections - with art and with each other - while artists and arts organizations desire customized spaces that nurture their creative endeavour...The REACH will fulfil many of these needs, all within a one-of-a-kind design that is a work of art in and of itself.”

Lucy Nordberg
TenderStream Head of Research

This competition was first published by TenderStream on 01.09.2014 here

Start your free trial here or email our team directly at

Subscribe Now