Kennedy Center Announces Expansion

The performing arts center is raising $100 million for the construction of new rehearsal and education space.

By: Sophie Gilbert

Kennedy Center chairman and Carlyle Group cofounder David Rubenstein was named a Washingtonian of the Year earlier this month for his philanthropic efforts in Washington, including the gift of a $2 million new organ for the concert hall. But the “most generous donor in Kennedy Center history” has gone one step further, providing $50 million for an expansion of the Kennedy Center’s building.

The planned expansion, announced today, is projected to cost $100 million in total, and will provide the institution with much-needed new rehearsal space and classrooms, as well as a floating outdoor stage on the Potomac River and new public gardens. The project is helmed by Steven Holl Architects, a New York-based firm. “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,” said Rubenstein in a press release.

Other features of the planned expansion include an outdoor video wall for simulcasts. The Washington National Opera, which was folded into the Kennedy Center a year ago, currently hosts an annual free simulcast at Nationals Park. The new buildings will be constructed from the same Carrara marble that currently covers the building. A bill approving the expansion of the site using private funds was approved last year by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.

A fundraising effort is also underway to raise the remaining $50 million for the project and a further $25 million for future programming. Rubenstein’s donation means he’s now given around $75 million to the Kennedy Center. As he said to The Washingtonian earlier this year, the secret to success is “to take advantage of your luck, build something, and then find something great to do with your money.”