The REACH Project Cover
Ph.: © Jim Tetro


Washington, DC | USA
Business Area
ARCHITECTSteven Holl Architects
Ph.: © Jim Tetro
The Concept

The new extension of the J. F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., also known as The REACH, is located in the immediate vicinity of the White House and the Washington Monument. The existing cultural center for the performing arts was built back in the 1970s and has now been expanded for the first time. Along with an extensive underground building complex with underground car park, rehearsal and theater rooms, three above ground pavilions have been built which will accommodate event and catering spaces. A characteristic feature of these new buildings are the curved edges with hard angles and flat or sloping roofs. The pavilions are inter-connected under the green roofs and literally blend with the surrounding landscape. To the south of the existing building, the Entrance Pavilion welcomes students, staff and visitors. To the west and south, the glass façade provides illumination of the entire building at night.


The surface of the titanium-white concrete pavilions appears almost seamless from a distance, but a closer look reveals the size and structure of the formwork panels. Up to four PVB foils (Vanceva artic snow) have been used as an interlayer and various types of finishing procedures have been applied for the glass façade to achieve an extremely mat finish of the three pavilions. For the façade panels, special glass types were used depending on the desired properties (e.g. heat strengthened low iron glass ultraclear or toughened safety glass H low iron) as well as a number of finishing techniques such as etching, sandblasting, partial sandblasting, perforations or anti-slip printing. Construction and installation have been particularly challenging due to the specific design of the concrete structures, the lengths of the façades and the spans of the concrete parts. Specific flexible tolerance compensation profiles were used to compensate for any large tolerances that might arise. Steel: wet paint RAL 7045, aluminum: powder-coated RAL 7045.




The Project
Scope of Work

Design & engineering, manufacturing and installation of 18 different façade types - 12 flat façades, one three-dimensional curved façade, four skylights, one all-glass sliding door featuring six units, three single doors and four double doors for an overall area of 1,550 sqm (16,700 sq ft).

At the center of the area, the Skylight Pavilion emerges from the landscape to the north, featuring a massive wall made of concrete. The area is designed to become an open-air space for film projections. The all-glass corner of the building in the northwest and the free-form geometry of the southern façade are particularly striking. Eight three-dimensionally curved glass panes, which were incorporated into the minimalistic steel frame structure on site, allow natural light to be directed into a spacious rehearsal room. To archive the required geometry for the all-glass corner (walls of the Skylight Pavilion do not converge with 90° corners), an elaborate auxiliary steel structure had to be erected serving as a formwork for the concrete and as a template for the installation of the glazed corner.
Perforated glass panes were installed in front of the technical rooms. Glass production entailed a very high risk of glass breakage, especially as the glasses were also partially heat strengthened. Up to three layers of translucent lamination foils were used to obtain an extremely mat appearance of the translucent panels. The high density of the penetrations was unusual for the glass refiner and first had to be tested on samples.

The River Pavilion perfectly completes the extension in the lowest part of the grass hill. Along with a café and a bar, the pavilion will accommodate interactive spaces for smaller performances, concerts or readings. The 12 meters (3 ft) long glass front, with its six-part all-glass sliding door, opens up the complete interior space of the River Pavilion to feature a large terrace with infinity pool. The sliding units (2 x 4 m / 6.5 x 13 ft) can be operated manually.

Technical Details

OWNER: Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.

ARCHITECT: Steven Holl Architects, New York, NY


CLIENT AND CONTRACTOR: The Whiting-Turner, Contracting Company, Baltimore, MD


FAÇADE CONSULTANT: Thornton Tomasetti, New York, NY

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