The REACH at The Kennedy Center


Nestled along the Potomac River and positioned near the Lincoln Memorial sits The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts—a “living memorial” built in 1971 to honor President Kennedy and his admiration for the arts. Forty-two years after its inception plans to “re-imagine itself as a more dynamic creative campus that actively engages with its communities” were put to paper. And just six years later, in September 2019, The REACH—coined Washington’s newest culture hub designed to offer behind-the-scenes access and creative classes—opened to the public.

We were tasked with finalizing design and engineering, then fabricating and installing extensive ornamental metal for the project, including indoor etched glass railing and outdoor stainless-steel cable guard rail—both of which incorporate integral LED lighting.


For a sleek and modern look, we detailed the glass panels and cable railing posts with engineered maximum sizes as well as adjusted the stainless-steel bracket geometry and post configurations in order to provide a railing system completely custom to The REACH. We also led coordination efforts to resolve complex coordination between waterproofing and landscaping trades and our exterior rail, as well as lighted railing coordination.


Wildly inventive spaces do not come without a few design challenges. Due to the size and make-up of the cable guard rails, our team partially erected and welded the units on-site. They were then carefully removed, factory bead blasted, repackaged, shipped back to the site, and reinstalled. Then, to touch up areas that were field welded, Synergi built a portable bead blasting unit along with a covering canopy so as to not damage the surrounding areas during our efforts. Our dedicated Site Supervisor completed this process within one shift.

The landscape encompassing The REACH made waterproofing an essential aspect of this project. Therefore, we designed and engineered the exterior railing system connections in order to fit within the raised paver system and for execution of waterproofing.

This was done by designing engineered post extension structural pedestals to make the challenging dance of trades feasible. A long-term project needs a long-term solution and our in-house team of engineers, design detailers, and project managers did just that.

With a value-engineering approach we were able to cut the cost of our scope by 16% for the client. Today, the REACH stands tall as a beacon leading the way for artists and enthusiasts alike to enjoy what President Kennedy envisioned many years ago. The facility opened on schedule and has experienced great success thus far.