George Clooney and Gladys Knight are among this year’s recipients, according to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.

The Irish rock band U2, which consists of Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr., were honoured at the Honors dinner on Sunday night in addition to Clooney and Knight.

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For 44 years, the Kennedy Center Honors have been presented annually. In the past, presidents of the United States frequently attended the gala ceremony honouring the awardees, which is regarded as a cultural and social high point in Washington.

Architecture of the building

The Kennedy Center was designed by Edward Durell Stone. The structure is 300 feet wide, 630 feet long, and 100 feet tall overall. A 630-foot-long, 63-foot-tall grand entrance with red carpeting and 16 hand-blown Orrefors crystal chandeliers (a Swedish gift) can be found in the Kennedy Center. Both the Hall of States and the Hall of Nations are 250 feet long and 63 feet tall.

The building has received criticism for its scale, design, and placement (far from Washington Metro lines), although praise has also been given for its acoustics and terrace overlooking the Potomac River. It was referred to as “gemütlich Speer” by Ada Louise Huxtable in her book On Architecture.

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The auditoriums and acoustics of the Kennedy Center were created by Cyril M. Harris. Numerous planes that take off and land at the neighbouring Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport frequently fly above the Kennedy Center and the Potomac River.

There is also a substantial amount of helicopter traffic over the Kennedy Center. The Kennedy Center was built like a box within a box, giving each auditorium an additional outside shell to block out this noise.

Following the original building’s designation for extension, Steven Holl Architects was chosen to handle the design in a competition in 2013. 

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The REACH, the extension’s name, debuted in 2019.

Different venues of the building

– Concert Hall

With 2,442 seats total, including chorister seats and stage boxes, the Concert Hall at the center’s southern end has a seating layout akin to that of many concert halls in Europe, like the Musikverein in Vienna. The National Symphony Orchestra is housed in the Concert Hall, the largest performance venue at the Kennedy Center.

A high-tech acoustical canopy, disability accessibility on every level, and new seating areas were added during a restoration in 1997. (onstage boxes, chorister seats, and parterre seats). The Norwegian Crown’s Hadeland crystal chandeliers were moved to improve the view. In 2012, a new pipe organ was built and installed by Canadian organbuilder Casavant Frères.

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– Opera House

There are roughly 2,300 seats in the Opera House, which is in the middle. Red velvet walls, a striking red and gold silk curtain that was a gift from the Japanese government, and a Lobmeyr crystal chandelier with matching pendants are among the interior characteristics of the building.

It was closed for the 2003–2004 season for extensive renovations that resulted in a new seating arrangement and remodelled entrances at the orchestra level. It is the main opera, ballet, and large-scale musical theatre of the centre. The Washington National Opera and the yearly Kennedy Center Honors are held there.

– Eisenhower Theater

The National Cultural Center Act was signed into law on September 2, 1958, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and is commemorated by the name of the 1,163-seat Eisenhower Theater on the north side. It primarily presents musicals, ballet, modern dance, and small-scale operas.

The theatre has an orchestra pit with room for up to 35 musicians that can also be used as additional seating or a forestage. Following a 16-month restoration that changed the venue’s colour scheme and seating configuration, it reopened in October 2008.

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– Other performance venues

-> The Family Theater debuted on December 9, 2005, and has 324 seats. It took the place of the previous American Film Institute Theater, which was situated close to the Hall of States. The new theatre was created by the Baltimore-based architectural company Richter Cornbrooks Gribble, Inc. It features a computerised rigging system and a digital video projection system.

-> As a present to the United States for its bicentennial, the people of Japan built the Terrace Theater, which has 487 seats, on the top terrace level in the late 1970s. Theater, ballet, and modern dance are all performed there. Between 2015 and 2019, the theatre underwent renovations to modernise its fittings and systems and comply with ADA regulations.

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-> With 399 seats, the Theater Lab now hosts the mystery Shear Madness, which has been running nonstop since August 1987.

-> On two specially designed stages at either end of the Grand Foyer, the Millennium Stage offers free performances every evening at 6:00 pm as part of the idea of “Performing Arts for Everyone” that Chairman James Johnson introduced in the winter of 1997.

-> The Millennium Stage offers performances in a variety of artistic mediums. There are performers and organisations from all 50 states among them, as well as an Artist-in-Residence programme where artists perform multiple times a month. At 6:00 pm, every performance on the Millennium Stage is webcast and archived for later viewing on the Kennedy Center website.

-> The area formerly known as the Education Resource Center was given the name Terrace Gallery on March 12, 2003. Today, the Kennedy Center Jazz Club resides there.