The art of safety

Washington icon expands

Since opening in 1971, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Kennedy Center) has produced and presented theatre, dance, ballet, orchestral, chamber, jazz and folk music performances from around the world.

The iconic venue, which is located on the Potomac River, adjacent to the Watergate complex in Washington DC, USA, is undergoing an expansion.

Designed by Steven Holl Architects, the expansion will provide approximately 5574 m2 of additional space for rehearsal rooms, event spaces, and dedicated classroom and multipurpose rooms for the Center's extensive arts education programs. Public access spaces will include gardens, an outdoor video wall upon which simulcast performances and other multimedia events may be projected, and an outdoor performance space on the river. Finally, multimodal access will be enhanced to and from the Center including the Rock Creek Paved Recreation Trail, the Potomac River waterfront, and surrounding facilities.

As part of our merger with the Protection Engineering Group in 2014, GHD was engaged to provide life safety and building code consulting services.

Commenting on the project, Isa Saah, GHD's Project Manager said, "We collaborated closely with the design team to provide specific guidance for building and life safety code compliance of this major expansion.

"Working with the Kennedy Center and design team, we determined a maximum realistic occupant load for a venue that could have one or more events occurring simultaneously. We also performed a dynamic egress analysis to identify how the expansion might affect a previous performance-based design we prepared for the adjacent parking garage."

The project broke ground on 4 December 2014 and is scheduled for completion on 29 May, 2017 the 100th birthday of President Kennedy.

For more information, contact Isa Saah on +1 571 325 5031 or email