The Kennedy Center announces Updated Design for Expansion Project

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Vice President Joe Biden to Deliver Remarks at Ceremonial Groundbreaking

The Kennedy Center will break ground for its Expansion Project on Thu., Dec. 4.

Ceremonial Groundbreaking on December 4

The public are invited to join this historic event at a livestream on the Millennium Stage or watch online.

In his final State of the Union address, President Kennedy said "to further the appreciation of culture among all the people...to increase respect for the creative individual, to widen participation by all the processes and fulfillments of art—this is one of the fascinating challenges of these days."

As the living memorial that bears his name, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts fulfills this vital mission by presenting and producing the best of the performing arts, supporting the creation of new works, and providing innovative and comprehensive arts education to millions of people across the country.

As the institution enters its fifth decade, the Expansion Project will be a place where the community can engage and interact with artists and their creative output in inspired and meaningful ways, across the full spectrum of the creative process. Much-needed rehearsal, education, and a variety of flexible indoor and outdoor spaces will allow the Center to continue to play a national and global leadership role in providing artistic, cultural, and enrichment opportunities for all.

Renowned American architect Steven Holl has created an innovative design that preserves the silhouette of the current building and provides rehearsal rooms and classrooms, a lecture hall, multipurpose meeting rooms, and an event space. Located south of the existing facility, the expansion will feature interior spaces with soaring ceilings and filled with natural light.

The open and engaging landscape will provide small and intimate spaces to gather and visit at all times of the day. An exterior wall will be a home for broadcasts and simulcast performances from within the Kennedy Center and elsewhere. An infinity pool will offer a direct sightline to Theodore Roosevelt Island across the Potomac. The varied gardens will provide opportunities for casual performances and events and other flexible locations for enhanced engagement, further positioning the Center as a nexus of arts, learning, and culture in the years ahead.

The Kennedy Center's connection to the Potomac River will finally be achieved with a dynamic pedestrian bridge, connecting the Potomac River waterfront and bike path. A third land-based pavilion features a highly convertible, intimate venue that will serve as a performance space, workshop, patron gathering space, and café. Its large windows and retractable wall offer an opportunity for visitors to witness artists in the creative process within the bright and open space. The bridge provides a strong connection to the riverfront, creating a welcoming approach and a pedestrian connection to the Lincoln Memorial and on to the Mall, Smithsonian, Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial. It will expand upon and improve the memorialization of President Kennedy and his significant contribution to the arts and American culture.

The expansion will be a gathering point for all who find themselves at the Kennedy Center, as theater-goers, tourists, or District residents, providing a comfortable and relaxed place to meet, visit, enjoy a meal, experience performing and visual arts, and generally enjoy the newly discovered connection to the river.


Founded in 1976, Steven Holl Architects is an internationally recognized, design-oriented firm with locations in New York and Beijing. SHA has realized cultural, civic, academic, and residential projects both in the United States and internationally. Notable work includes the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland (1998), Sarphatistraat Offices, Amsterdam (2000), and Chapel of St. Ignatius, Seattle, Washington (1997). Most recently completed are the Citè de l'Ocèan et du Surf in Biarritz, France (2011), the Horizontal Skyscraper in Shenzhen, China (2009), the Knut Hamsun Centre in Hamarøy, Norway (2009), the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art in Herning, Denmark (2009), the Linked Hybrid mixed-use complex in Beijing, China (2009), named Best Tall Building of 2010 by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), and the new Seona Reid Building for the Glasgow School of Art in Glasgow, UK (2014).

Recently, the office has won a number of international design competitions including the new design for the Houston Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX), new design for the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA), and the new Visual Arts Building at the University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA).

Steven Holl

STEVEN HOLL, Principal & Lead Designer

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 joined the Architectural Association in London and established Steven Holl Architects in New York City. As founder and principal of Steven Holl Architects, Steven Holl is the designer of all projects ongoing in the office. Considered one of America's most important architects, he 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 been recognized with architecture's most prestigious awards and prizes. Recently, he received the Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award for Architecture, 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). In 2011, the Horizontal Skyscraper received an AIA National Honor Award. In 2010, the Knut Hamsun Centre and the Horizontal Skyscraper were given an AIA New York Honor Award, and the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art won a RIBA Award. In 2006, he received honorary degrees from Seattle University and Moholy-Nagy University in Budapest.

Mr. Holl is a tenured Professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture and Planning. He has also taught at the University of Washington, the Pratt Institute, and the University of Pennsylvania. He has lectured and exhibited widely and has published numerous texts.

Chris McVoy

CHRIS McVOY, Senior Partner

Chris McVoy was born in 1964 in Ankara, Turkey. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Architecture from the University of Virginia, pursuing studies in Venice in 1985. He graduated with a Master's of Architecture from Columbia University in 1992 and upon graduation worked with Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. Chris McVoy joined Steven Holl Architects in 1993 and was made the first Partner in 2000.

As Senior Partner, Chris McVoy collaborates with Steven Holl in cultural projects, and oversees their realization. He has been internationally recognized for his expertise in designing museums and university buildings, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO), which Time Magazine named the "#1 Architectural Wonder of 2007" and the New Yorker called "one of the best museums of the last generation." Mr. McVoy has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship, a William Kinne Travel Fellowship, and an American Scandinavian Foundation Grant. He has participated in international arts symposia and lectured widely on the firm's work.

Steven Holl Photograph ©Mark Heithoff, Chris McVoy Photograph © Susan Wides, Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects