The REACH at the Kennedy Center

The REACH at the Kennedy Center is America’s living memorial to President Kennedy, and the nation’s cultural center. Under the leadership of Chairman David M. Rubenstein and President Deborah F. Rutter, the nine theaters and stages of the nation’s busiest performing arts facility attract audiences and visitors totaling 3 million people annually.  The Kennedy Center Expansion is intended to be a place where visitors can more actively engage with artists, while also creating new and much-needed rehearsal, education, and flexible indoor and outdoor event and performance spaces. Steven Holl Architects envisions the expansion of the building to fuse with the landscape and river, instead of being an appendage object. The expansion is comprised of three land-based pavilions on the Kennedy Center's South Plaza and a newly imagined pedestrian bridge that will connect the Potomac River waterfront to the Kennedy Center.


Cool linear lights accentuate exterior perimeters while cool light projections onto the facades highlight the architectural profiles and provide ambient lighting to the exterior. Warm accent downlights at the entrances demarcate the transitions to the interior, and warm ambient lighting in the interior glows through the transparent facades to provide a connection to interior activity to the landscape.


L’Observatoire international provided the lighting design for all exteriors including the reflecting pool, facades, bridges and floating platform, as well as all interior public spaces, event spaces, auditorium, classrooms and rehearsal rooms.


Size: 72,000 sq ft interior, 130,000 sq ft landscape area

Steven Holl Architects / Spirit of Space

Location Washington, DC, USA
Date Completed 2019
Architect Steven Holl Architects
Associate Architect BNIM Architects
Client John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Type Performing Arts Centers
size72,000 ft2 / 6,700 m2
Status Built

L'Observatoire Intl Team
Principal Hervé Descottes
Project Leader Wei Jien
Project Team Glenn Fujimura Kristy Philp Oliver Huang
Awards AIA New York Honor Award , 2020
Press Architectural Record, Oct 2019
Photo Credits Richard Barnes, L'Observatoire International
Video Credits Steven Holl Architects / Spirit of Space