It's not quite the gigantic, $650 million project envisioned a decade ago by Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser, but the $100 million southward expansion announced Tuesday marks a major step for the institution.
With a lead gift of $50 million from the center's chairman, Baltimore-born David M. Rubenstein, the building venture, being designed by Steven Holl Architects, will see pavilions for classrooms, multipurpose facilities and rehearsal spaces rise on the property just south of the Kennedy Center, toward the Roosevelt Bridge. It's the biggest expansion since the center opened in 1971.
In a nice retro touch, the project will include ...
space for outdoor performances on a facility floating on the Potomac -- not far from where the National Symphony Orchestra used to give summertime concerts on a barge (that spot was known as the Watergate, a name adopted and subsequently made awfully famous by a housing/office complex north of the Kennedy Center).
Other features of the project include an outdoor video wall for simulcasting performances, and public gardens.
Rubenstein said that Holl'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."
The initial plans include exteriors for the pavilions that will incorporate translucent Okalux, glass, and the same Carrara marble used on the Kennedy Center.
A fundraising campaign will be launched to raise the remaining $50 million for the project, along with an additional "$25 million for major programming initiatives in the years ahead." The total costs will be covered by private funding.
Rubenstein, an extraordinary philanthropist who has contributed to National Archives, the Washington Monument, and the Smithsonian Institution, as well as the Kennedy Center, said that he hoped his $50 million gift would "encourage others to donate to this project."
"As the federal budget tightens, I hope more Americans will consider including nonprofit federal entities in their own philanthropy as well," Rubenstein said.
IMAGES COURTESY OF STEVEN HOLL ARCHITECTS