The first-ever expansion of the John F. Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, slated to open to the public on 7 September, 2019, heralds a monumental, state-of-the-art, indoor-outdoor, non-traditional cultural campus that serves as the perfect complement to the Kennedy Center’s august and chandeliered hallways.

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The view of the Reach from the Potomac. Photo by Jonathan Morefield

It’s called the REACH (standing for Renew, Experience, Activate, Create, and Honor the Kennedy legacy), and the $250-million, 4.6-acre, three-pavilion, visionary addition is all at once an arts incubator, social space, performance space, classroom and rehearsal space, and outdoor green space for picnicking, movies, orchestra, festivals, and epic performances. It’s a place for the public to mix with the performers and watch rehearsals and talk about art and peer behind the scenes of the creative process—or simply relax on the fountain-graced lawn or take in a show on the outdoor stage or video wall.

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The Welcome Pavilion on the left and the Skylight Pavilion. Photo by Jonathan Morefield

“As a visitor to DC, there will always be something for you to do at the Kennedy Center,” said Deborah F. Rutter, president of the Kennedy Center. “That place you can come to see whatever programming interests you and have a great time.” The REACH echos the spirit of John F. Kennedy, who advocated the arts. The ten new spaces, in all different sizes and dimensions, are named for him (including Moonshot, PT-109, and Peace Corps), and his inspirational quotes are etched throughout.

The Reach. Image by Barbara Noe Kennedy

Star-chitects Steven Holl Architects are responsible for the REACH’s airy, modern feel, complete with ecological touches, including DC’s largest green roof, that should merit LEED certification within the first six months of opening. Saturday, September 7, 2019, kicks off a 16-day opening extravaganza at which you can get a taste of the REACH’s innovative approach with 500-plus events, including concerts, theater performances, dance and singing classes, comedy shows, and more—all free. You’ll need a free, timed-entry pass, available here.

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The Justice Forum at the Reach. Photo by Jonathan Morefield

“How amazing the REACH will be for Washington,” said Eliot Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC. “It will change the cultural landscape.”

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