The Kennedy Center

Expansion Project

In his final State of the Union address, President Kennedy said, "to further the appreciation of culture among all the 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."

For more than 45 years, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has served as the living memorial to President Kennedy by bringing an unparalleled diversity of arts to our nation’s capital and serving a critical role as a leading provider of arts education initiatives across the United States and around the world.

To more deeply explore and provide a home for new ways in which the arts, education, and community intersect, the Kennedy Center has embarked on the first major expansion in its history. The expanded campus will create new opportunities for performances, informal gatherings, community outreach, and interaction between artists and audiences across the full spectrum of the creative process.

Renowned American architect Steven Holl has created an innovative design that preserves the silhouette of the current building and adds three pavilions visible above ground: a Welcome Pavilion to introduce guests to the expanded campus, a Skylight Pavilion overlooking the new landscape, and a River Pavilion adjacent to the Potomac River. The facilities will include studios, rehearsal rooms, media-ready classrooms, a traditional lecture hall, space to accommodate critical education programs, an outdoor wall for simulcast and video presentations, and a café/bistro meeting spot.

These new spaces are all designed to be flexible and create a new experience for members of the extended Kennedy Center community to interact and fully engage with the Center as a nexus of arts, learning, and culture.

A dynamic relationship between structure and environment is a cornerstone of this project. The unique landscape design provides visitors and patrons the opportunity to enjoy sculpture and interactive art, meticulously planned gardens, casual seating areas, and reflecting ponds, welcoming visitors in every season.

In addition to walkways from the main building and from the underground parking, the expansion will also be easily accessed from the waterfront by a ramp from the Rock Creek Parkway pathway. Sweeping views of memorials, the Potomac River, and the river’s bridges will mingle with the beautiful new glass structures and open-air performance spaces to create a distinctive new space for the city of Washington and its millions of visitors.

The expansion features:

  • A flexible, 2,500 square foot performance space, along with three new rehearsal/multi-purpose spaces, a café/bistro, and 7,500 square feet of pre-function and event space.
  • A large outdoor video wall, complemented by terrace seating for more than 1,600.
  • A scenic walkway connecting the Center with the River and nearby memorials.
  • Engaging art installations and digital enhancements that will allow the Kennedy Center to attract and connect with millions of patrons through stimulating interaction and information sharing.
  • Ample space for an enhanced memorialization of President Kennedy.
  • Above-ground and below-grade connections, all ADA-compliant, between the expansion and the Kennedy Center.


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

To support the expansion of its physical resources and meet the demand for more adventurous artistic, educational, and community-focused programming, the Kennedy Center has launched an unprecedented capital campaign.

As the Center embarks on this monumental endeavor and simultaneously celebrates John F. Kennedy’s upcoming centennial, it is hoped that all those who interact with the Center — patrons, students, educators, supporters, volunteers, and visitors — will feel drawn to this important and significant project.

A campaign of this scale requires support at all levels, providing crucial funds to honor President Kennedy’s legacy through the performing arts, arts education, and community outreach.

The Kennedy Center's Expansion Project would not be possible without the visionary leadership of Chairman David M. Rubenstein, who has generously contributed $50 million in support of this historic undertaking. To view a list of contributors who have made leadership gifts to the Building the Future Capital Campaign, please visit our Project Funding page.

Help us build the future

The Building the Future team can be reached directly at (202) 416-8025 or