Innovation Deserving of a Standing Ovation
Syracuse, N.Y. -- Washington, D.C. is a city well known for it’s outstanding architecture. In addition to its many monuments and government buildings such as the White House and the U.S. Capitol, it is no coincidence that many of these historic buildings are also air conditioned by Carrier. It should also come as no surprise that one of Washington’s newer landmarks, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, was built with Carrier systems as well.
The Kennedy Center is located on 17 acres on the banks of the Potomac River near the Lincoln Memorial. It opened to the public in September 1971, but the center was conceptualized in 1958 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed bipartisan legislation creating a National Cultural Center.
The National Cultural Center Act included four major parts. It authorized construction of the Center, articulated an artistic mandate to present a wide variety of both classical and contemporary performances, clarified an educational mission for the Center, and declared that the Center was to be an independent facility, both self-sustaining and privately funded. Due to this last provision, a giant fundraising campaign was kicked off immediately following the passage of the Act.
President John F. Kennedy, a major supporter of the arts, led the fundraising campaign. He often referred to the Center as "our contribution to the human spirit." Two months after President Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, Congress designated the National Cultural Center as a "living memorial" to the fallen president and authorized $23 million to help build what is now known as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
In December 1965, President Lyndon Johnson broke ground at the site, using the same gold-plated spade that had been used in the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Lincoln Memorial in 1914 and the Jefferson Memorial in 1938.The gala opening performance at the Center was on September 8, 1971. It featured a Requiem mass honoring President Kennedy commissioned from the composer Leonard Bernstein. The preview audience in attendance was kept cool that warm September night by a Carrier system of 3,900 tons capacity.
The Kennedy Center is the United States’ busiest arts facility and presents more than 3,300 performances each year for audiences totaling over 2 million. Additionally, more than 3 million people tour the Center each year. National and local artists give hundreds of free performances each year. The Center features many different types of performances including opera, dance, and music. It is also home to the National Symphony Orchestra. It also presents annual festivals celebrating cities, countries and regions of the world.
The Kennedy Center reaches millions of people every year through its many television programs. They include "The Kennedy Center Honors," "The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize,” and "Kennedy Center Presents."