Case Study JFK Center for the Performing Arts

Project Details
Project: JFK Center for the Performing Arts 
Segment: Public Environments
Location: Washington, D.C.
DESIGNER / ARCHITECT: Richter Cornbrooks Gribble Architects

NATURAL CREATIONS ArborArt Luxury Flooring Brings Beauty and Durability to National Performing Arts Facility

The John F. Kennedy Center hosts an unmatched variety of art performances attended by thousands of people every year and viewed by millions more on broadcasts and DVDs. The venue is a showcase supporting President Kennedy’s vision for the nation to “Be remembered not for our victories or defeats in battle or politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.” A world-renowned, internationally significant building such as this deserves only the best architectural products gracing its spaces. That’s why 18,000 square feet of Armstrong NATURAL CREATIONS ArborArt Luxury Flooring were installed in the Kennedy Center’s recently renovated Terrace Level Galleries.

Architectural Gem

Architect Edward Durrell Stone designed The Kennedy Center, which opened to the public in 1971. The building is a signature design statement housing architectural treasures and gifts donated by nations around the world in the Kennedy Center’s many theaters and public spaces. For example, sixteen huge, hand-blown Orrefors crystal chandeliers—a gift from Sweden—brighten the awe-inspiring Grand Foyer. Japan’s Bicentennial gift to the Kennedy Center is the 513-seat Terrace Theater, the main attraction on the Terrace Level, constructed in the late 1970’s. The Terrace Level also features a second theater, two restaurants and a jazz club. The Terrace Level galleries are a popular destination for all Kennedy Center visitors because they lead to outdoor open-air spaces offering commanding views of many Capitol area landmarks. The floors on the Terrace Level are subjected to a high volume of people traffic and heavy moving equipment. The Terrace Level gallery area hosts a wide variety of events ranging from VIP candlelit dinners to international dance troupes performing on temporary stages to sculpture exhibitions. So, floors in these spaces need to be very durable to handle the sheer volume of activities and visitors. They also must be outstandingly beautiful in keeping with the prestigious Kennedy Center’s reputation. And, they must have a design that creates a neutral, elegant backdrop for whatever performance or exhibit is scheduled 365 days per year.

Flooring Gives a Command Performance

When Richter Cornbrooks Gribble (RCG) Architects in Baltimore, Md., was asked to renovate the Terrace Level Galleries area in 2011, the firm looked at many flooring options. Joseph Briggs, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP, and Principal of RCG chose Armstrong NATURAL CREATIONS ArborArt Luxury Flooring . He explains, “We wanted to create a warm-looking environment with a floor that had a texture and pattern appropriate for large-scale spaces. The Kennedy Center desired, above all else, durability and ease of maintenance, but with an aesthetic that was on par with the other public spaces at the center. We compared both the technical specifications and aesthetics of available products and Armstrong ArborArt was our clear preference.

NATURAL CREATIONS ArborArt Luxury Flooring has the warmth and appeal of natural hardwood with the resilience and performance advantages of LVT. The collection’s wood species include popular hardwoods such as oak, maple and cherry, plus a wide range of rustic, exotic and contemporary looks such as barnside beach blond, plank bamboo carbonized and fruitwood alabaster. Briggs says he chose three ArborArt SKUs—TP035 roan-oak natural, TP036 roan-oak warm and TP037 roan-oak cocoa—because he wanted three distinct color variations across one wood species to create the design he envisioned. He explains, “Armstrong’s LVT had the coordinating colors and pattern we were looking for. We organized the three colors in an over scaled woven pattern to create a more visually active space that looked appropriate for both when the rooms were empty or filled with tables draped with white tablecloths for a dinner. Armstrong provided a product that is both beautiful and durable.”

Armstrong Sales Support

Briggs says although the Kennedy Center had no stated LEED® goals for this renovation, “Indoor air quality is very important to the institution for the artists, visitors and staff. Low emitting materials (no vinyl emissions) and adhesives were a must.” Armstrong LVT can contribute to LEED® EQ4.3 credits and has low VOC emissions compliant to California Section 01350 with third party FloorScore™ certification. Briggs says Armstrong commercial floor Territory Manager Kevin Haley helped provide product sustainability information and more. “Kevin was extremely helpful in arranging for a large scale mock-up of the pattern and guiding RCG, the installer and the Kennedy Center through product questions and adhesive selection.

Fantastic Customer Reaction

The Terrace Level Galleries renovation was completed in August 2011, much to the satisfaction of everyone involved with the project, especially the Kennedy Center staff. Briggs says, “It was very satisfying during the beginning of the installation to receive comments from the Kennedy Center staff as they stepped off the elevator and viewed the new floors for the first time. The responses were uniformly ecstatic and the positive response has remained over the couple of months of use.

Although the Kennedy Center is a “feather in your cap” design project to be associated with, this is not the first time RCG has specified NATURAL CREATIONS Luxury Flooring, nor is it the first time customers have been thrilled with the results. Briggs specified ArborArt to replace VCT in a university housing renovation project. “The product was tested in an initial mock-up room and was so well received that we were asked to replace carpeted areas of living rooms with ArborArt, too,” he says.

Creating Statement Interiors for 150 Years

The Kennedy Center is a one-of-a-kind statement space, but Armstrong flooring has been manufacturing trusted flooring solutions for thousands of spaces for 150 years. Our commercial floor portfolio includes a contemporary selection of NATURAL CREATIONS Luxury Flooring, one of our newest product categories, featuring fashion forward designs that coordinate with our entire portfolio of commercial flooring products. Armstrong NATURAL CREATIONS Luxury Flooring is fun to design with and flexible to install. The durable, abrasionr-esistant wear layer is engineered for years of use, while the UV-cured urethane coating reduces the time, chemicals and labor needed for routine maintenance. The NATURAL CREATIONS Luxury Flooring family includes ArborArt wood visuals; Mystix inspired, contemporary trend designs; and EarthCuts unique stone visuals.                   

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