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D.C. center expanding

Vinoly to draw up plans for two new buildings

WASHINGTON — Architect Rafael Vinoly has been selected by the Kennedy Center’s board of trustees to design two buildings over a proposed plaza that will house administrative, education and rehearsal facilities as well as an exhibit hall/museum for the performing arts.

Gotham-based Rafael Vinoly Architects PC, designer of numerous cultural facilities including Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center and the Tokyo Intl. Forum, was tapped from a large group of contenders to design the project. The buildings will dominate a proposed eight-acre plaza that will connect the now isolated center with the rest of the city. They will be constructed during the next decade here over an existing freeway.

A sweeping design

A preliminary design of the project shows a sweeping approach to the center from 23rd Street that includes two curved steel-and-glass buildings set beside a cascading central fountain, a pedestrian walkway and a connection to the waterfront.

The new plaza will include an inviting space that will be used for outdoor performances, while a broad new terrace for pedestrians will be extended over the Potomac River outside the center’s western side.

Along with office facilities for the center, the buildings also will house administration for the Washington Opera. They will be connected by an underground level that will house additional parking.

Living memorial

“The buildings and plaza will reconnect this living memorial with the life of the city,” says Vinoly.

Congress authorized $400 million last year to create the pedestrian plaza over the Potomac Freeway. In addition, local philanthropist Catherine Reynolds agreed in December to donate $100 million toward the center’s $250 million capital campaign to fund the project.

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