The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Dear Mr. Kaiser:
During it meeting of 18 March, the Commission reviewed the joint submission from the Kennedy Center and the Federal Highway Administration for the revised concept design for the Kennedy Center's new plaza and expansion project, and the new roadway configuration for the portion of Interstate 66 that surrounds and isolates the Center from the city. Once again, the design by Architect Rafael Vinoly was found to be well thought out and thorough in scope. The revisions to the plan that have developed since it was presented last year have improved the project in many significant ways. The new opening in the extended terrace projecting over the river blank on the west side of the Center is very welcome in that it will prevent a tunnel-like feeling for those driving on the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway under the cantilevered west terrace. The changes to the east side terrace and plaza deck have only strengthened the concept and have addressed many functional needs as well as improving access. The modifications to the two buildings flanking the east terrace are also seen as improvements.
The reconfiguration of the highways, access roadways, and the new pedestrian paths and bicycle trails, as proposed by the Federal Highway Administration, will undoubtedly improve the ease of access for the Center's patrons and visitors, as well as for the general public traveling through the vicinity of the Center. We understand that there is much more work to be done on the design of the roads, bridges, and pathways, and the members hope that there is additional thought given to the pedestrian access from the north. Currently it is, and may well stay, the primary route in the future for those arriving on foot as it is the most direct path to the nearest Metro station. Every effort should be taken to make this approach as welcoming and inviting as possible and to avoid having a patron feel as though they arrived at the Center's "side door."
All together, the joint submission for the revised concept for the plaza and expansion, and for the proposed reconfiguration of the roadways, was unanimously approved by the Commission.
The members look forward to the continuing review of the project and to working with you, your design team and the Federal Highway Administration's team throughout the project. As always, the staff is available should there be questions.
Charles H. Atherton
Mr. Michael Kaiser
President, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Washington, DC 20566-0001
cc: Rafael Vinoly, FAIA
Claudette Donlon, JFKCPA
Daniel Feil, JFKCPA
Melisa L. Ridenour, FHWA
Paul Nishimoto, FHWA
Gary Henderson, FHWA, DC Division