Kennedy Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts, Ter­race Theater

Tp Kennedy Ctr Terrace 21100041 N24

The Kennedy Center opened in 1971 and has become the iconic performing arts center for the United States. Originally designed by Edward Durell Stone, it currently houses eight performance venues including the homes of the National Symphony and the Washington DC Opera.

The Terrace Theater hosts over 150 performances per year, making it one of the busiest performance spaces in the Kennedy Center. The approximately 500-seat venue is used for chamber music, theatre, ballet and contemporary dance and small opera performances.

Focused on the downstage side of the curtain, this renovation improves intimacy, accessibility and audience comfort, adds warmth and variability to the acoustic environment and updates the technical systems. Schuler Shook is responsible for planning the new seating layout to provide excellent sightlines and a more intimate audience environment. The new layout also makes the room as barrier-free as possible, accessible and welcoming for all patrons.

Along with upgrading the technical systems in the auditorium, Schuler Shook developed new lighting positions that improve the capability of the stage lighting system. These include new box lighting positions, new catwalks and new side wall lighting positions.

Working closely with Jaffe Holden Acoustics, Schuler Shook designed a variable acoustic system that will allow the room to change automatically to support the wide range of performance types, from classical opera and acoustic music, to highly amplified music, or spoken word theatre.

To increase production variability, Schuler Shook designed an adjustable proscenium that is seamlessly integrated into the architecture, allowing every performance type to fit naturally and gracefully into this jewel-box performance space.


Washington, DC


Quinn Evans Architects