Boeing has announced that it will be donating $20 million to the Kennedy Center in support of its $100 million expansion project, continuing the company’s longstanding patronage of the performing arts center. The Washington Post reports that Boeing chairman W. James McNerney Jr. surprised Kennedy Center board chairman David M. Rubenstein with news of the gift before the two went onstage for a Q&A session at the Economic Club of Washington (of which Rubenstein is president). The Post also included this endearing tidbit: “The 460 business leaders in attendance offered a collective ‘wow’ upon hearing the news.”
This donation will be the second—and among the largest— that has been made to the Kennedy Center’s project since McNerney joined the Kennedy Center board in May, along with a gift of $50 million from Rubenstein himself. The entire project will be privately funded.
The expansion, designed by New York-based architect Steven Holl, calls for 60,000 square feet of rehearsal, classroom, event, and performance space spread throughout three pavilions and also underground, and will remodel the landscape to the south of the art center with the introduction of a grove of trees, a reflecting pool, and a valley that can be used as an amphitheater.
A groundbreaking ceremony occurred last December, and representatives say they are optimistic that construction will begin this fall after a series of design issues delayed the project’s original starting date in March, according to the Post. They optimistically estimate that the expansion will be completed only 15 months behind schedule, in the fall of 2018.