Following an ambitious redesign and 16-month construction process, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will reopen the Terrace Theater on October 6.
The popular theater—the Kennedy Center’s busiest venue—has been transformed to improve functionality, support a broader range of programming, improve accessibility, and enhance the theater experience for guests. The modernization was designed by Quinn Evans Architects, which also oversaw the complex renovations of the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall, Opera House, and Eisenhower Theater.
The Terrace Theater serves as the Kennedy Center’s principal home for chamber music, and preserving the theater’s excellent acoustics was a primary objective, as well as enhancing its acoustics for amplified music. Highlights within the 485-seat theater include an adjustable proscenium with movable panels that can reconfigure the size of the stage, which is used for a variety of music, jazz, dance, film, and lecture events as well as performances by local arts groups. Hand-crafted, undulating wood paneling faced with sycamore veneer lines the walls and embraces the audience in warm wood surroundings evocative of stringed instruments. Four side boxes have been added, and the performance hall has a new sound system and LED architectural lighting. New lighting positions have been provided for performance lighting (also LED). A new seating plan optimizes sightlines, provides accessible seating distributed throughout the theater, and creates a more intimate environment for the audience.
The lobby has also been reconfigured to include a lower level reached by an open staircase and featuring a work of art designed by Dale Chihuly. A new elevator was inserted allowing access to all levels of the theater for all patrons, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The renovation to the Terrace Theater, which is located on the Kennedy Center’s roof terrace level, is the first since the venue was constructed in the late 1970s as a Bicentennial gift from the people of Japan.
In addition to Quinn Evans Architects, the team includes theater design consultant Schuler Shook; Jaffe Holden for acoustical design; Mueller Associates for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering; McMullan Associates for structural engineering; and GHD for fire protection. Rand Construction Corporation served as the construction manager, and the Kennedy Center’s in-house production team designed and installed the state-of-the-art audio-visual system and lobby lighting fixtures.