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The Sondheim Celebration: Ten  Years Later

The Kennedy Center's expansion project, designed by preeminent architect Steven Holl, will add much needed education and rehearsal space to the south end of the Kennedy Center grounds. Public access spaces will include gardens, an outdoor video wall for simulcast performances, and an outdoor performance space on the Potomac River. Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein will donate $50 million as the project's lead gift.

Overview

Each year, millions of people nationwide take part in innovative, inclusive, and effective education programs initiated by the Center, including school- and community-based residencies and consultancies, age-appropriate performances and events for young people, career development for young actors, dancers, singers and instrumentalists, and professional learning opportunities for teachers, teaching artists and school administrators. The expansion project will provide much-needed classroom space and multipurpose rooms for lectures and symposia.

After careful consideration, the selection committee unanimously recommended the firm of Steven Holl Architects to the full board.

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. A formal design will be created and announced in the coming months.

The Concept

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. A formal design will be created and announced in the coming months.

Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein will personally donate $50 million toward the design and construction of the new building.

“I hope more Americans will consider including nonprofit federal entities in their own philanthropy as well,” said David Rubenstein. Mr. Rubenstein’s other philanthropic endeavors include major gifts to the National Archives, the Washington Monument, and the Smithsonian Institution.

With Mr. Rubenstein's $50 million lead gift, the Kennedy Center has begun a major campaign to raise a minimum of $125 million: $50 million more for the expansion project and an additional $25 million or more for major programming initiatives in the years ahead.

Gallery

To understand the expansion project's initial concept, take a moment to peruse our gallery of visual imagery. When you select from among any of the images below, a more in-depth visual display will appear with an explanatory prècis detailing each slide image.

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The Architect

Steven Holl was born in 1947 in Bremerton, Washington. He graduated from the University of Washington and pursued architecture studies in Rome in 1970. In 1976 he attended the Architectural Association in London and established STEVEN HOLL ARCHITECTS in New York City. Considered one of America's most important architects, Steven Holl is recognized for his ability to blend space and light with great contextual sensitivity and to utilize the unique qualities of each project to create a concept-driven design. He specializes in seamlessly integrating new projects into contexts with particular cultural and historic importance. Steven Holl has realized cultural, civic, academic and residential projects both in the United States and internationally.

Steven Holl has been recognized with architecture's most prestigious awards and prizes. Recently, Steven Holl received the 2012 AIA Gold Medal, the RIBA 2010 Jencks Award, and the first ever Arts Award of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards (2009). Steven Holl has received honorary degrees from Seattle University and Moholy-Nagy University in Budapest. In 2003 he was named Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). In 2002 the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institute, awarded him their prestigious National Design Award in Architecture. In 2001 France bestowed the Grande Médaille d'Or upon him, for Best Architect of the Academy of Architecture; and in the same year Time Magazine declared him "America's Best Architect" for his 'buildings that satisfy the spirit as well as the eye'.

Steven Holl is a tenured Professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture and Planning. He has lectured and exhibited widely and has published numerous texts, including Anchoring (1989), Intertwining (1996), Parallax (2000), Idea and Phenomena (2002), Luminosity/Porosity (2006), House: black swan theory (2007), Architecture Spoken (2007), Urbanisms: Working with Doubt (2009), Hamsun Holl Hamarøy (2010). Most recently published are Horizontal Skyscraper (2011), Scale (2012), and Color Light Time (2012).

Steven Holl is a member of the American National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the American Institute of Architects, the American Association of Museums, the Honorary Whitney Circle, the Whitney Museum of American Art; and the International Honorary Committee, Vilpuri Library, of the Alvar Aalto Foundation.

Courtesy of Mark Heitof

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Expansion Project

A night view of the expansion concept

A night view of the expansion concept to be constructed south of the existing Kennedy Center building. The expansion will be designed by Steven Holl and senior partner Chris McVoy of Steven Holl Architects. The concept will create a strong visual impression, while maintaining the Center's unique presence among Washington's iconic landmarks.

Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

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Aerial view

Expansion terraces moving toward the river

Steven Holl is known for fusing architecture, landscape and urbanism. Rather than an object added to the Center, the expansion is a landscape of terraces moving toward the river. The pavilions will sit within a cascading series of newly created public gardens, including a small reflecting pool, thus fusing building, landscaping and the river.

Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

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Looking south from the Plaza

View looking south from the Kennedy Center south plaza

View looking south from the Kennedy Center south plaza, showing the public enjoying a simulcast performance and the new landscaping. The concept establishes a visual link to the Lincoln Memorial, the existing building and the Potomac River. The exterior walls will be designed to serve also as screens upon which performances and other multimedia events may be projected.

Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

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Entry Pavilion

Watercolor by Steven Holl showing the concept from southeast of the existing Kennedy Center, looking west

A watercolor by Steven Holl showing the concept from southeast of the existing Kennedy Center, looking west. The expansion will be accessed via the main plaza on the southeast and through an underground connection. The exterior will incorporate clear glass, Okalux, a type of light-diffusing white glass, and Carrara marble, the same Italian marble which clads the original facility. Steven Holl is recognized for his ability to blend space and light with contextual sensitivity.

Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

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Fusion with Landscape and River

Steven Holl at a table of images. Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

Architect Steven Holl working on the concept for the Kennedy Center expansion. Mr. Holl frequently works with watercolors to illustrate his designs. He specializes in seamlessly integrating new projects into contexts with particular cultural and historic importance.

Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

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Viewpoint

"I am proud to announce the selection of acclaimed Steven Holl Architects for the Kennedy Center expansion project and look forward to working with one of the foremost architects of our time," -David Rubenstein, Chairman

"Steven’s wonderful concept will create a strong visual presence that bolsters the Center’s prominence as the national cultural center, while maintaining its unique presence among Washington’s iconic landmarks." -David Rubenstein, Chairman

"I’m so pleased the Kennedy Center will have spaces specifically designed…to help fulfill our mission of bringing arts education to students across Washington and to millions of people across the country." - Michael M. Kaiser, President

"David Rubenstein’s generosity and leadership have created an enduring legacy and we are very grateful for his ongoing commitment to the Kennedy Center and to all of Washington. His patriotic philanthropy and belief in President Kennedy’s statement about Americans asking what they can do for their country benefits not only the Kennedy Center but the great nation it serves." - Michael M. Kaiser, President


"It is a great honor to design the extension to the Kennedy Center, a ‘Living Memorial.’ In that spirit ours is part of a vital architecture, providing much needed rehearsal space, and classrooms with natural light and ventilation." - Steven Holl, Architect