“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.”

President John F. Kennedy, October 26, 1963

An Expansion Project


As the first major expansion in Kennedy Center history, the REACH breaks down boundaries between audience and art. Set adjacent to the Kennedy Center along the Potomac River, the REACH is designed by renowned architect Steven Holl for the extended Kennedy Center community. The REACH provides visitors with the opportunity to fully interact and engage with the Center as the nation's premier nexus of arts, learning, and culture. The REACH will transform the campus from a traditional performing arts center into a living theater where the artist can be set free.

We imagine the REACH as an immersive learning center where communities can reach into the artistic process and discover what it means to make art. Visitors might come with a picnic blanket and friends to watch a simulcast and then linger to take pictures of an outdoor art installation. Parents might bring their children to attend an arts camp, and on the way pass by a dance rehearsal in one of the REACH’s windowed studios. The REACH is a public incubator where artists can reach for wherever their visions take them and visitors from all walks of life don’t need a ticket to experience art.

When you visit the REACH, you will enter an open stage for differing ideas and divergent cultures. The REACH is our newest and boldest offering in continuing President John F. Kennedy’s legacy and his vision to advance the “contribution to the human spirit.”

The Campus

Steven Holl, architect
The Expansion Project is three pavilions on a green roof.

With a sketchbook and watercolor pad, lead architect Steven Holl imagined a dynamic, collaborative space that preserves the silhouette of the current Kennedy Center building and expands its usable public and outdoor space. For the first time, the Center that serves as the memorial to John F. Kennedy will reach out to communities from the National Mall and other presidential memorials via a pedestrian bridge spanning Rock Creek Parkway.

Holl’s expansion connects community with art, and art with nature through three distinct pavilions overlooking the Potomac River: a Welcome Pavilion introducing guests to the REACH, a Skylight Pavilion featuring panoramic views of the new landscape, and a River Pavilion bordering the Potomac River. Organically designed spaces include landscaped paths, outdoor seating, gathering places, dining options, and an outdoor stage and video wall that will host simulcast, live performances, and movie nights. The REACH is a conversation between design and experience where form follows function to give rise to a stage for activity – hosting experimentation, dialogue, and artistic breakthroughs.

Inside, the new buildings take advantage of natural light through soaring, floor-to-ceiling windows meant to invite the public in to explore and watch. The REACH will host three new classrooms and a dedicated Learning Lab, three adaptable studios, two spacious event venues, and The Forum—a space for film screenings, lectures, and intimate performances.

The Campaign

The Skylight Pavilion has views of the Potomac River.

Since its inception the Kennedy Center has served as the national cultural center and living memorial to President Kennedy—a gift given to our nation in celebration and support of American arts and culture, and the critical role it plays in our national identity. 

The REACH, once completed, is a gift to our nation as well—allowing anyone, from any place, to have meaningful, powerful artistic experiences both formally and informally, across our entire campus. The Building the Future Capital Campaign, led by Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein and Campaign Chair Michael Neidorff, supports the design and construction of the REACH, and provides critical funding for the programs and activities for which the REACH is being built.

Support the REACH today and help us build the future

Donate Today on the support page

Fulfilling the vision of the REACH would not be possible without the leadership of Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein and Campaign Chair Michael Neidorff. More than 300 individuals, foundations, and corporations have joined them, and for their commitments we are immensely grateful.

For more information, please click here to donate, or contact the REACH team directly at (202) 416-8025 or at BuildTheFuture@kennedy-center.org.

Make a Contribution

Your contribution helps the Kennedy Center to build the REACH and expand its offerings to more than 11 million people.