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The White House Historical Association released a new episode of The White House 1600 Sessions podcast today, “White House: Next-Gen Designers,” which introduces the next generation of designers who have left their mark on the White House through the first new free-standing building on the White House grounds in decades, the tennis pavilion project.

In the episode, Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association, speaks with a decorator, architect, and artist, who brought the new White House tennis pavilion to life:

  • Tham Kannalikham, board member of the Association and former White House decorator
  • Steven Spandle, architect of the White House tennis pavilion
  • Emily Bedard, creative director for Foster Reeve & Associates and Next-Gen Leader for the Association, a cohort of young influential professionals bound together by history, civics, and education

“The way that the pavilion has been crafted makes it look like it has always been there,” said McLaurin. “These things shift from presidency to presidency, and become a part of the fabric of family life at the White House.”

“When we were tasked with the responsibility of upgrading the facilities at the tennis court, essentially what we initially thought and what immediately came to mind and as being a classical architect and a traditionalist, is really doing something that would fit into the ground seamlessly,” said Spandle. “We wanted to do something that looked like it was in keeping with the ancillary buildings on the property, specifically with the East and West Wing.”

“It was really an important design because it’s the only private outdoor space for a first family,” said Kannalikham. “So we had to take that into account and make sure it’s comfortable.”

Watch the full video of this podcast episode here, which includes a video demonstration from Bedard on how the plaster ornaments that decorate the new pavilion were made.

“I always think of a building as a living thing, said Bernard. “And when I'm able to contribute a piece of art or contribute to the architecture of the space, it feels like you're really putting your life into it and that it's going to keep living through you.”

The tennis pavilion project included the refurbishment of an existing tennis court and updates to the White House Children’s Garden. Planning started in early 2018, with the final design approved in in the spring of 2019 by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Planning Commission. The project was completed in late 2020.

To hear the full episode, visit

The White House 1600 Sessions is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

For more information, please contact

The White House 1600 Sessions

White House Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin. McLaurin is the host of “The White House 1600 Sessions,” the Association’s official audio and video podcast devoted to exploring the history, cultural impact, untold stories, and personal accounts of America’s most iconic residence and highest office.

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About the White House Historical Association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $115 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit