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Kennedy Center sets 1st expansion since opening

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 29, 2013 at 10:22 am •  Published: January 29, 2013

"The idea really is that the landscape is activated," a fusion of architecture and landscape features, Holl said.

It could include a reflecting pool the exact length of the PT-109 boat that Lt. John Kennedy commanded during World War II. Holl envisions a deck along the pool made from the same mahogany wood as the boat. It could also include inscriptions of Kennedy's words.

The biggest challenge in the design concept could be winning approval for a performance stage that would float on the Potomac River, Holl said. Still, he said he has successfully negotiated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a past project that fell inside a flood plain.

"I'm ready for the fight," he said.

The new expansion plans come more than 10 years after the Kennedy Center announced a major project to build two new buildings and a plaza over a nearby freeway to connect the center with the National Mall. The $650 million project was essentially canceled in 2005 after budget constraints forced Congress to eliminate $400 million in federal funding for the project.

Kaiser envisioned a museum of the performing arts as part of that project. Now, he said the center can plan future exhibition galleries in its main building as education programs and rehearsals move to the new facilities.

Rubenstein, a billionaire businessman and a former vice chairman of New York City's Lincoln Center, has been limited by its building over the years. So he wanted to plan a realistic project that could be privately funded without relying on Congress. As the federal budget tightens, Rubenstein said more Americans should consider supporting nonprofit federal entities like the Kennedy Center.

Adding a garden and outdoor pavilions will make the center more inviting, he said.

"Rarely do people say in Washington, 'I'm going to go over and spend a couple hours at the Kennedy Center,'" Rubenstein said, noting it's often an evening destination for shows. But that will change, he said. "What we wanted to do was to remind people that this is a living memorial to a president."


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