The Kennedy Center Could Have Looked Like This

Check out this great find. It’s a rendering of a proposed design for the Kennedy Center, then called the National Cultural Center. It’s actually not terribly different, just with far more curved lines than the boxy shape it takes today. Not long after it was built, a very curvy Watergate would take up position right next to it.

Proposed design for the Kennedy Center
Proposed design for the Kennedy Center

This drawing was done by Edward Durell Stone, the architect who would design the final building as well as a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright.

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  • Nice design, but where would Rock Creek Parkway have gone? Today it’s flanked by the Kennedy Center and the river. The drawing doesn’t seem to show it at all there.

  • Audrey Burtrum-Stanley

    A few years back I was interviewing The great Arkansas architect, Mr. Fay Jones for an article in PEOPLE Magazine. He told me a charming story about Edward Stone, a verrrrry formal gentleman.
    A group of fellow architects had been invited for dinner in New Orleans by Stone. Mrs Jones (who went by the name of ‘Gus’!) was seated at Stone’s right. A waiter came and whispered Mr. Stone he was “wanted on the telephone.” He responded, the waiter “should get the telephone number.” Stone believed it extremely rude to leave his guests.
    The waiter left; then, he returned. He said: “This is an important call.” Stone replied, “As the evening’s host – leaving to answer the telephone is impossible!”
    The waiter came back a third time. He loudly announced: “Mr Stone, The White House is calling. Go to the phone!” Stone turned to Gus smiled, then murmured: “Please excuse me. I have a phone call.”

    Upon his return his return, Stone picked up his fork and resumed eating. Everyone at the table was about to burst with curiosity. No one moved or spoke – they just stared at the man. Finally Stone looked up, said; (with a sort of off hand delivery) “Oh did you all want to know about the call?” That was President Eisenhower. I’ve been invited to design the National Center for Performing Arts!”

    • Sheila Gilbert

      Fantastic, Thank you!

  • Sheila Gilbert

    I like this one MUCH better. The Kennedy Center looks too stark to me. I like the curve.

  • Jim Kabbani

    No no no… the Watergate did not get built after the Kennedy Center as this article incorrectly states but before: “Not long after it was built, a very curvy Watergate would take up position right next to it”. Construction on the Watergate began in 1963 and was completed one building at a time – 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969 completions for the apartment buildings and hotel, with the 5th building (mixed office and residential) in late 1970. The Kennedy Center on the other hand did not open til September 1971