A Dramatic Transformation

Terrace Theater

Terrace Theater

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Washington, DC

Our award-winning modernization of the Kennedy Center’s busiest venue has received rave reviews. Our fourth major renovation at the Center combined technical solutions that improve the theater’s functionality with a sweeping aesthetic transformation.

The curving wood panels enveloping the renewed theater are inspired by sound waves. Their undulations come into synchrony at the proscenium, where architecture meets performance. Adjustable side and header panels complement the new orchestra shell, lending a polished look in any configuration. Like all of the materials selected for the renovation, the paneling serves to enhance the theater’s acoustic performance. The modernization has transformed the hall into a vibrant and versatile space.

A Dramatic Transformation
There’s a newly minted feeling of warmth and comfort, and of expanded size and sweep.
A photo of the theater with purples seating and expanded accessibility features such as reduced slope near the stage to provide twice the number of ADA-required accessible seats.

Providing Shared Experiences for All

In keeping with the Center’s inclusive mission, we expanded accessibility throughout the hall. We created a larger seating area at the rear, added new cross-aisles and side boxes, and reduced the slope near the stage to provide more than twice the number of ADA-required accessible seats. For more, see our Queries & Theories webcast that discusses human-centered design, social models, and creating better environments with the Kennedy Center’s Director of VSA & Accessibility, Betty Siegel.

A photo of the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater from 1976, before renovations.

Updating a Gem

The 1976 theater presented challenges for the audience and performers alike, including inadequate accessibility, aging systems, limited stagecraft flexibility, and a worn, outdated interior. However, it had excellent acoustics, which we worked to enhance.

A view from the upper level seating area looking towards the advanced audio-visual equipment above the stage.
A side profile of the inside of the theater displaying the technology upgrades for lighting and sound.

Technical Upgrades

A new catwalk lighting position and box booms, reconfigured technical booths, and a new audio-visual system have enhanced the theater’s operations.

A photo of the outdoor entry, with the building and its gold colored posts reflecting in the water feature in front of it.

The Show Must Go On

Construction on the Terrace Theater took place while the rest of the Kennedy Center remained occupied and operational. We collaborated closely with our engineering team, staff, and the construction manager to ensure the Center’s busy performance schedule would not be disturbed.

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