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

John F. Kennedy’s vision was to set the artist free. Free to reach beyond hallowed halls and sacred walls into creative open spaces where audiences can reach back and connect with the art and the artist who created it.

That’s why we created the REACH.

The REACH is a living theater where diverse art forms collide to break down the boundaries between audience and art. It is an immersive learning center, a public incubator, and a set of dynamic, collaborative spaces where art happens so close audiences can reach out and touch it.

Envisioned as a complement to, and extension of, the Kennedy Center’s mission, the REACH is an open stage for differing ideas and divergent cultures, delivering on a vision for what a 21st century arts center should be—inclusive, accessible, and interactive.

Design highlights include:

- Three soaring pavilions featuring floor-to-ceiling windows.
- Eleven highly flexible spaces which will be used for the creation of art, performances, events, classes, and more.
- An outdoor stage and video wall, which will host concerts and film screenings.
- A “green roof” and 130,000 square feet of landscaping and gardens, including a 35-tree ginkgo grove, walking paths, and lawns.
- A casual arts café that invites socializing and “dwell time” outside of regular performance activities.
- A connection—by way of a new pedestrian bridge spanning Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway—to the National Mall and other presidential memorials.

Meet the Design & Project Team

Founded in 1976, Steven Holl Architects (SHA) is an internationally recognized, design-oriented firm with locations in New York and Beijing. SHA has realized cultural, civic, academic, and residential projects both in the United States and internationally.

Steven Holl Principal & Lead Designer

Steven Holl graduated from the University of Washington and pursued architecture studies in Rome in 1970. In 1976, he joined the Architectural Association in London and established Steven Holl Architects in New York City. Considered one of America’s most important architects, he is recognized for his ability to blend space and light with great contextual sensitivity and to utilize the unique qualities of each project to create a concept-driven design. He specializes in seamlessly integrating new projects into contexts with particular cultural and historic importance.

Steven Holl has been recognized with architecture’s most prestigious awards and prizes, recently: Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award for Architecture, 2012 AIA Gold Medal, the RIBA 2010 Jencks Award, and the first-ever Arts Award of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards (2009). In 2011, the Horizontal Skyscraper received an AIA National Honor Award. In 2010, the Knut Hamsun Centre and the Horizontal Skyscraper were given an AIA New York Honor Award, and the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art won a RIBA Award. In 2006, he received honorary degrees from Seattle University and Moholy-Nagy University in Budapest.

Mr. Holl is a tenured Professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture and Planning. He has also taught at the University of Washington, the Pratt Institute, and the University of Pennsylvania. He has lectured and exhibited widely and has published numerous texts.

Chris McVoy Senior Partner

Chris McVoy received his Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from the University of Virginia, pursuing studies in Venice in 1985. He graduated with a Master’s of Architecture from Columbia University in 1992 and upon graduation worked with Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. Chris McVoy joined Steven Holl Architects in 1993 and was made the first Partner in 2000.

As Senior Partner, Chris McVoy collaborates with Steven Holl in cultural projects, and oversees their realization. He has been internationally recognized for his expertise in designing museums and university buildings, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO), which TIME named the “#1 Architectural Wonder of 2007” and The New Yorker called “one of the best museums of the last generation.” Mr. McVoy has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship, a William Kinne Travel Fellowship, and an American Scandinavian Foundation Grant. He has participated in international arts symposia and lectured widely on the firm’s work.

Project Team

Steven Holl Architects
Design Architect

Architect of Record

Paratus Group
Owner’s Representative

The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
Construction Manager

Robert Silman Associates
Structural Engineer

Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Engineers

Langan Engineering and Environmental Service, Inc.
Site/Civil, Geotechnical, and Environmental Engineers

Edmund Hollander Landscape Architects
Landscape Architect

Thornton Tomasetti
Envelope Consultant

Sara Greenwood, Greenwood Consulting
Sustainability Consultant

Transsolar KlimaEngineering
Energy Modeling Services

L’Observatoire International
Lighting Consultant

Harvey Marshall Berling Associates
Audio/Visual, IT, Security, Acoustic Consultant

Stuart-Lynn Company, Inc.
Cost Consultant

Reginald Hough Associates
Architectural Concrete Consultant

Life Safety, Building Code Consultant

Gorove/Slade Associates, Inc.
Traffic and Parking Consultant

Vertran Enterprises, Ltd.
Vertical Transportation Consultant

Stantec Consulting Services, Inc.
Environmental and Regulatory Compliance Consultant

Robinson & Associates
Preservation and Historical Consultant

Questions & Solutions Engineering
Commissioning Agent

JGL Food Service Consultants
Food Service Consultants

The REACH is a place where visitors, audiences and artists can come together for collaboration, experimentation, and exploration in the spirit of President Kennedy’s vision for a new frontier for the arts. Many of the spaces have been named after historical and personal moments in his life as an expression of our role as his living memorial.

Learn About Our Spaces

Event rentals at the REACH


Regular activities within the REACH will include club-style performances, a Learning Lab that welcomes students and visitors to explore hands-on arts experiences, and social events, as well as festivals, outdoor films, art installations, youth programs, and exhibitions.

The REACH will open to the public on September 7, 2019, with a weeklong celebration that features free campus-wide activities, indoor and outdoor performances and events, and extensive opportunities for the public to explore Washington’s newest cultural destination.