John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC

Designated by Congress as a “living memorial” to President John F. Kennedy soon after he was assassinated in 1963, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is located on the banks of the Potomac River, not far from the National Mall. Due to its riparian site, Severud Associates designed the massive building to bear on concrete caissons that extend to bedrock. Inside, each of the three main auditoriums—the Concert Hall, Opera House, and Eisenhower Theater—is acoustically isolated from the structural system that surrounds it.

Kennedy Center, Washington DC
Kennedy Center, Washington, DC

The stage and half of the seating of the upper level Terrace Theater rest on a 56-foot diameter turntable, which enables the venue to be transformed from a traditional proscenium theater into a more intimate theater-in-the-round. The system of electric motors and jackscrews that control the turntable and seating are supported by a two-way suspension system with a shallow 12-inch construction depth, which fits between the turntable and the ceiling of the Eisenhower Theater below, despite spans of up to 60 feet.