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Kennedy Center Plans $100 Million Expansion, Including Stage Floating on Potomac

Big changes proposed for 42-year-old local landmark.

The Kennedy Center has announced plans for a $100 million expansion to its now 42-year-old complex that stands as a landmark along the Potomac River in Washington, DC, according a Washington Post story.

The current facility hosts 2,000 events annually, drawing crowds from the city, its suburbs and far beyond, and it is "pressed for space," according to the article.

The new architectural plan seeks to connect the current complex with the waterfront with public green spaces, a video projection wall, classrooms, rehearsal facilities, multipurpose rooms for educational programs and most notably, a floating stage on the Potomac.

Half of the funding will come from Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein, marking the largest single gift in the center's history.

While the $100 million price may seem high, it is considerably less that the 2010 expansion of the Arena Stage, which cost $135 million.

The Kennedy Center's president, Michael M. Kaiser, told the Post, “We run the largest arts education program in the country -- we work with 11 million children a year ... but the building doesn’t have a classroom in it.” Rubenstein backed the comment, stating, “We don’t have rehearsal space of any consequence at the Kennedy Center."

The plans pay homage to President John F. Kennedy and specifically his love of the sea, including one of his quotes: "When we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it, we are going back from whence we came," which would appear on one of the glass walls of the floating stage.

Additionally, a reflecting pool, part of the proposed landscaping, is designed to be the exact length and width of a naval PT boat, which Kennedy commanded in WWII.

While no start date was mentioned in the story, architectural renderings are available for viewing on the Washington Post's website.  

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