CFA 16/JUL/15-1


2700 F Street, NW
Washington, DC
United States

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Expansion project
Review Type
Previous Review


Dear Ms. Rutter:

In its meeting of 16 July, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed and approved the final submission of the expansion project for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts at 2700 F Street, NW. Commending the project team for the elegant design, the Commission approved the final submission with enthusiasm, subject to review of further documentation to complete the approval process.

The Commission members commented that as the design has been developed, the landscape palette has been beautifully integrated with the site and the structures. They said that the project has been improved by the decision to move the River Pavilion to a location within the elevated terrace landscape, which increases the opportunities provided by the three pavilions to frame monumental views beyond the Kennedy Center site. They expressed appreciation for the presentation of architectural details and materials, but they raised concern that the complex landscape design has been documented less thoroughly, citing such details as the junctions of ground planes and the intersections of these planes with utility elements. They also questioned whether certain landscape specifications—such as sugar maples and decomposed granite—would be appropriate choices for Washington's climate. Noting that an exacting program of maintenance will be required, they encouraged careful consideration of the suitability of landscape details. Acknowledging that the planned pedestrian bridge was illustrated in the presentation materials but is not part of the current project scope, the Commission members welcomed the attention given to circulation and bicycle accessibility through this new landscape. However, they observed that in some places cyclists will need to walk their bicycles, especially by the River Pavilion; they also noted the close proximity of the pedestrian bridge ramp to the bicycle route along the river, and they suggested more generous landings at each end of the bridge to ensure sufficient width and sightlines for cyclists and others.

The Commission thanks the Kennedy Center for its development of a rich and nuanced design that will contribute significantly to the memorial landscape of the national capital. The Commission delegated review of the final documentation, including a detailed site grading plan and other details, to the staff which, as always, is available to assist you.


Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Deborah Rutter, President
Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20566-0001

cc: Steven Holl, Steven Holl Architects
Peter May, National Park Service