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Kennedy Center’s Israeli Lounge redesign will include history, contemporary art

Boston’s EYP architects won a competition to outfit the space, which will close briefly in 2020

Renderings courtesy of the Kennedy Center

Architecture firm EYP will lead the redesign of the Israeli Lounge at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, the institute announced May 8. It will be the first renovation of the lounge in its 48-year history.

Boston-based EYP won the commission in a competition that drew 38 entrants. EYP’s submission was “a fresh design that reflects the spirit of modern-day Israel, pays homage to its rich history, and features artwork by contemporary Israeli artists,” according to the Kennedy Center.

LetterOne, a Luxembourg-based investment firm that Mikhail Fridman owns, is funding the work through a $1.25 million donation. The lounge, on the box tier level of the Kennedy Center’s concert hall lobby, can accommodate up to 80 guests, and serves as an entertainment and meeting space.

The redesign will mean that the Israeli Lounge will be closed from January until a spring 2020 reopening (exact date TBD). During that time, a similar nearby space called the Bird Room will serve as a substitute for necessary events and patrons.

The design from the EYP team of Antoinette Ayres, Courtney Janes, and Belilta Asfaw “will feature a dramatic curved ceiling that echoes the topography of Israel,” according to the Kennedy Center. “Gallery walls will feature one of Israel’s premier materials, Jerusalem stone, as a warm, neutral backdrop to curated selection of artwork. Thirteen stone panels will be placed along each wall, symbolic of the 13 tribes of Israel.

“A tile mosaic wall made from Israeli-American photographer Richard Nowitz’s photo of Ha Yehudim Street in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter will anchor the north wall of the room.”

Also, while the work’s going on, original Israeli Lounge artwork by Nehemiah Azaz and Shraga Weil will be removed, restored, and displayed at the Kennedy Center.