Get your first look at The REACH, The Kennedy Center’s new expansion

The REACH takes center stage in the District this month.

This month, The Kennedy Center’s highly anticipated The REACH opens its very modern doors. The opening festival will be held from Sept. 7 to 22, on the 4.6-acre expansion, intended to be an immersive space where visitors can not just watch, but be a part of, the creative process. Look for everything from open-to-the-public rehearsals to artistic workshops to dance parties at the instantly iconic campus. Like the original Kennedy Center, The REACH was designed to honor the legacy of JFK. Most rooms are named with a nod to the 35th president (such as the Moonshot Studio) and his most stirring quotes are etched into the space’s windows and walls. The long-awaited expansion also features a walkway and pedestrian bridge that connects The Kennedy Center to the National Mall.

To celebrate the unveiling, The Kennedy Center will host a 16-day festival at The REACH, featuring more than 400 free events with headliners including Arrested Development, The Second City, Renée Fleming, Alan Menken and more. Read on for a sneak peek at what to expect.

All photos are by Richard Barnes, and courtesy of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.


Designed by architect Steven Holl, The REACH consists of three contiguous, interconnected pavilions: the River Pavilion, Skylight Pavilion and Welcome Pavilion.

The Skylight Pavilion (left) and the River Pavilion (right)

Both indoor and outdoor spaces can be activated. The Skylight Pavilion has a projection wall that will host movies and simulcasts.

The Welcome Pavilion

The Welcome Pavilion, like the rest of the spaces, was built to achieve LEED Gold Status and makes use of natural greenery.

Interior spaces, like the main lobby in the Welcome Pavilion, were designed with high ceilings and drenched in natural light in order to bring the outside in.

The main lobby of the Welcome Pavilion

The Justice Forum, the only space in The REACH without windows, will play host to lectures, performances and more.

The Justice Forum

This post originally appeared in our September 2019 issue. For more DC events to check out this month, click here.

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