Dear ArchitectureWeek Readers,
Edward Durell Stone presents a model of the National Cultural Center to President John F. Kennedy in October, 1963. Photo: Courtesy Edward Stone Office Archives
Creating the Kennedy Center
by Hicks Stone
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts was
problematic for the office of architect Edward Durell
Stone. At the project's inception as the National
Cultural Center, Washington, D.C., had lacked a venue
for performing arts commensurate with the city's role in
the life of the nation and the world.
Roger L. Stevens and the cultural center's board of
trustees reviewed the original Stone design in January
1962 and, after considering the possibility of building
portions of the building in phases, rejected the design
outright as too expensive to build. A new construction
budget of $31 million was established. Stone was asked
to produce an alternative design, and, after reviewing a
series of options with Stevens, the architect revived a
dormant scheme that he had rejected in the office's
early design process.
Borrowing the overall form of the building from Henry
Bacon's Lincoln Memorial and Stone's own U.S. Embassy in
New Delhi, the front of the building consisted of an
attenuated colonnade supporting a cantilevered cornice,
with an attic floor set well back from the edge of the
cornice. The plan positioned the three principal
performance halls off of a ceremonial corridor that ran
the length of the building, while two smaller corridors
separated the three theaters.
Initially, the project received unremarkable reviews,
certainly not ones that would bear a resemblance to
those that greeted the project on its opening nine years
later. Instead, there were a series of contentious
exchanges over the location of the project, specifically
concerning its isolation and the tangle of highways that
circumscribed the site.
Despite a compact and complex site, the Kennedy Center project provides gracious building approaches.
Photo: Kevin Matthews/ Artifice Images
At night, the Kennedy Center is a lantern on the riverside.
Photo: Kevin Matthews/ Artifice Images
Kennedy Center Gallery
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts by Edward Durell Stone is a major architectural and cultural landmark on the banks of the Potomac in Washington, D.C., as well as a white marble living memorial to the Camelot President.
With the publication of a major Edward Durell Stone monograph, written with remarkable perspective by Stone's son, it seems an opportune time to reconsider the body of work produced by one of the more enigmatic American modernists.
One of Stone's most significant works is the national cultural center of the United States, the creation of which is addressed in the cover story of this ArchitectureWeek issue.
We hope this extended collection of photographs, supporting that story, will contribute to appreciation of the building, which we find to be most appropriate to its site — extremely difficult, yet handled with such grace as to seem inevitable; to its cultural station — demanding both grandeur and universality, with dignity yet without adding airs; and to its programmatic mission, for which numerous technical issues, from services to acoustics, have been handled with relatively transparent success.
Ateliers O-S architectes has designed a colorful 39-unit apartment building in Paris. Photo: Luc Boegly photographe
People and Places
by Nancy Novitski
Ateliers O-S architectes in Paris, France —
Santiago Calatrava in Zhongli, Taiwan —
LHB in Rochester, Minnesota —
The Jerde Partnership in Atlantic City, New Jersey —
Abode Communities in Los Angeles, California —
Perkins + Will in Carlsbad, California —
Gruen Associates in Los Angeles, California —
KieranTimberlake in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania —
BRB Architects in Rockville Centre, New York —
HMFH Architects in Hanover, Massachusetts...
Paris, France 2011.0124
Ateliers O-S architectes of Paris designed a 39-unit apartment building in Paris for client Logivie/ Batigère. Located on a formerly industrial corner site, the social housing development is part of a master plan of three housing projects organized around a garden.
The building consists of a three-story volume and a four-story volume joined at an angle to match the inflection of the adjacent street, with each floor plate rotated slightly from the one below. The facades are lined with balconies whose privacy is ensured by a set of colored wooden slats ranging from white to blue. This pattern provides a strong identity to the building, gives a kinetic character to the facades, and offers shade. A wide deck overlooking the central garden articulates and connects with the ground-floor apartment level.
The apartments are organized around two vertical circulation spaces, one for each part of the building. Most of the apartments have several exposures, and a void in the garden facade also provides light to several adjacent apartments. The facility also includes a 39-space basement parking level.
The building features substantial insulation and minimization of thermal bridges. The compact construction also minimizes heat loss, and the orientation has been optimized for solar gain. The project was completed in July 2011.
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"Keep up the good work!"
— ZN, Saratoga Springs, New York
Which of these three famous leading men of Hollywood
intended a career in architecture, starting his film
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Fonda, or Jimmy Stewart?
While waiting for the owner at the last job site
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to decide between a clear-view and a free-lift mast
option on a piece of equipment he was considering
purchasing. The amount of side shift and the carriage
width were also considerations. What type of equipment
was he considering?
Classic Home 034 — Davis House, by Howard Davis
"The Davis House is an elegant, shingle-clad home that exemplifes doing more with less. Its compact plan is a result of designing for an unusually small lot. But careful control of room proportions and strategic placement of openings between rooms provide a feeling of spaciousness throughout the house. Thoughtfully placed windows and French doors along the south wall open up the main interior living spaces to an adjacent 'outdoor room.' The entire upper floor is devoted to a commodious master bedroom suite..."
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