This comprehensive renovation enables the popular Terrace Theater to support a broader range of programming while enhancing functionality, accessibility, and the overall theater experience for guests.

The modernization was the fourth major theater renovation designed by Quinn Evans Architects for the Kennedy Center. 


  • 513-seat theater design renovation
  • Monumental Building built as presidential memorial in 1971
  • Designed by Edward Durrell Stone

The Terrace Theater was constructed in the late 1970s as a Bicentennial gift from the people of Japan. The theater is used for a variety of music, jazz, dance, film, and lecture events as well as performances by local arts groups. 

A World-Class Venue

Preserving the theater’s excellent acoustics was a primary objective, as the Terrace Theater serves as the Kennedy Center’s principal home for chamber music. Highlights within the 485-seat theater also include an adjustable proscenium with movable panels that can reconfigure the size of the stage, enabling the venue to serve as both a world-class musical recital hall and theater.  

New Technology, Improved Seating

Four side boxes have been added, and the performance hall has a new sound system and LED architectural lighting. New lighting positions have also been provided for LED performance lighting. A new seating plan optimizes sightlines, provides accessible seating distributed throughout the theater, and creates a more intimate environment for the audience. 

Hand-crafted, undulating wood paneling faced with sycamore veneer lines the walls, embracing the audience in warm wood surroundings evocative of stringed instruments. Accessible seating is available throughout the theater and at all levels. 

“Where the audience was once greeted by a boxy, unexceptional space…there now stands a gorgeous concert venue clad in stacks of richly hued, curved wood panels…There’s a newly minted feeling of warmth and comfort, and of expanded size and sweep…”

Joe Banno 
Classical Voices America 

Dramatic Entry

The lobby has 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.