On Wednesday, May 9, 2018, leadership from the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, The Weitz Company, Leo A Daly and WGI, brought the future closer into view when they and supporters officially broke ground on the Center’s $50 million expansion project, Kravis 2020: The Future is Now.
With commemorative shovels and hard hats, officials from the four organizations broke ground and started the official construction ball rolling on the project which will make the Kravis Center experience more enjoyable for those arriving by car, bicycle or on foot. The Kravis Center’s expansion project will enhance the performing arts center experience for patrons by increasing the size of the lobby, creating a pedestrian-friendly plaza opening onto Okeechobee Boulevard, adding a new valet parking garage, adding a new entrance/exit ramp to the existing garage and improving traffic flow on and around the campus.
“Today officially marks the beginning of Kravis 2020: The Future is Now Capital Project,” said Judith Mitchell, CEO for the Kravis Center. “Over the next 22 months, the Kravis Center will begin to transform into an even brighter beacon for Palm Beach County, thanks to the efforts of our Kravis 2020 committee, led by Capital Campaign Chairman and Kravis Center Board Treasurer John Kessler; William Meyer, past Board Chairman and Chairman of the Center’s Operations Committee overseeing the project; and our design and construction teams from The Weitz Company, Leo A Daly and WGI. The Kravis Center welcomes more than 500,000 guests every year, and this expansion will accommodate a growing base of customers with expanded ease of accessibility to enjoy our schedule of performances.”
Also in attendance were Michael Bracci, Kravis Center Board Chairman; James Mitchell, Kravis Center COO and owner’s representative for the project; John Kessler,Treasurer of the Kravis Center’s Board of Directors and Kravis 2020 Chairman; Alexander Dreyfoos, Founding Board Chairman; William Meyer, past Kravis Center Board Chairman and Operations Committee Chairman; and Jane Mitchell, immediate past Kravis Center Board Chair and current Board Vice Chair.
The Kravis Center was also joined by Dennis Gallagher, Executive Vice President of The Weitz Company, the expansion project’s general contractor; William (Bill) Hanser, AIA, Managing Principal of Leo A Daly, the project’s architecture, engineering, planning and program management firm; and Brian LaMotte, Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer of WGI, responsible for the project’s infrastructure design services.
Features of the expansion project include:
- More space to improve traffic flow in, out and around the performing arts center.
- Additional restrooms in the lobby.
- Colorful water features and expansive landscape on the plaza, and a pedestrian-friendly destination for people walking and biking from CityPlace, the Marriott, the Hilton, the Palm Beach County Convention Center or the downtown community.
- The sculpture, “Embrace,” created by Robin Oglesbee-Venghaus, winner of Pratt Institute’s design competition for the Kravis Center, will serve as the focal point of the plaza area.
- A second plaza at the corner of Tamarind and Okeechobee, with an interactive marquee and benches.
- A new valet garage on Sapodilla Avenue will provide more convenience for users. It will also alleviate congestion in and around the main parking garage before and after performances.
- An interconnected ramp up to the fourth floor of the main garage, making it and the fifth floor easier to access. This ramp will allow exit directly onto Okeechobee Boulevard.
- Increased technology campus-wide to improve customer service, security, box office communications and parking availability for guests.
The expansion plans coincide with city efforts to make venues along Okeechobee Boulevard easier for pedestrians and bicyclists to navigate. The project is estimated to be completed in February 2020 and will be funded through private and corporate donations as well as grants. No interruptions in the performance schedule are anticipated.
Taking center stage in the expansion project will be:
- The Weitz Company, a full-service general contractor, design-builder and construction manager, which has worked on the Kravis Center campus since 1991. The firm has served the region since 1978 and has offices throughout the United States.
- Leo A Daly, an internationally-recognized, award-winning architecture, engineering, planning, interior design, and program management firm whose portfolio includes world-class projects in more than 91 countries, all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
- WGI, a national consulting firm that for nearly 50 years has represented iconic projects like the Kravis Center with a comprehensive range of infrastructure services, including planning, engineering, architecture, landscape architecture, transportation, and parking solutions.
About the Kravis Center:
- Approximately 1450 events, including 550 performances, take place at the Center each season.
- The complex and grounds occupy 10.6 acres of land with facilities totaling 853,500 square-feet which includes a free standing 1,100 space parking garage.
- The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. is not City, County, or State owned. It is a private 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, with operational funding derived from earned income and contributions.
- The annual operating budget is $27 million, with earned revenue representing 80% and fundraising representing 20%.
- More than 2.2 million Palm Beach County students have attended performances through the Kravis Center’s arts education programs, with no fee charged for busing. The Admission Waiver Program assures that no student will be denied admission to a S*T*A*R (Students & Teachers Arts Resource) Series performance due to economic need. Over 70% of students attending S*T*A*R Series performances participate in this program and attend free of charge.
- The Center is named in honor of Raymond F. Kravis, a prominent geologist and philanthropist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who wintered in Palm Beach for more than 35 years. In 1985, a consortium of his friends donated more than $7 million to name the facility for Mr. Kravis.