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2016 Keystone Award Presented to Robert P. Kogod

On Thursday, May 26, 2017, the American Architectural Foundation’s Board of Regents presented the 2016 Keystone Award [1] to Robert P. Kogod of Charles E. Smith Management, LLC at the 27th annual Accent on Architecture Gala [2]  in Washington, DC.

The Keystone Award, presented by AAF’s Board of Regents, is an annual national award that honors an individual or organization from outside the field of architecture for exemplary leadership that has increased the value of architecture and design in our culture.  The winner of the Keystone Award reflects AAF’s vision of a society in which architecture enriches lives and transforms communities.

Mr. Kogod is a graduate of the American University in Washington, DC.  He began his career in development, construction, leasing and management in the 1950s as an employee of Dan Pollin.  He then became a homebuilder with a business partner building more than a hundred homes in the Washington area.

Mr. Kogod married Arlene Smith in 1956 and in 1959 joined Charles E. Smith and Robert H. Smith at the Charles E. Smith Companies, at that time an office of eleven persons.  Charles E. Smith, the family’s mentor in building and philanthropy, retired in 1967.  Together with his brother-in-law, Bob Smith, the two Bobs grew the business to several thousand employees and into one of the largest commercial, residential and mixed-use landlords in the metropolitan Washington, DC area.

The company transformed many communities, perhaps most notably Crystal City in Arlington, VA.  The area across the Potomac River just minutes south of Washington, DC was once replete with junkyards and abandoned industrial sites.  With his brother-in-law’s vision to purchase a tract of land and start with two residential buildings, they transformed the area into one of the most popular commercial and residential sites in the region.  Crystal City is now home to 16,000 residents and is a hub for 60,000 employees who commute in to offices such as the Department of Labor, The Environmental Protection Agency, and satellite offices of the Pentagon.

Subsequently, the Charles E. Smith Companies merged with Archstone-Smith to become the third-largest apartment real estate  investment trust, and with Vornado Realty Trust, a preeminent office building public company.

Mr. Kogod lives out of the idea of community betterment in his personal life as well.  Philanthropy is one of his core missions.  He and his wife focus their support on art and cultural institutions, healthcare, medical research, and education.  “What people do for the public good,” Mr. Kogod says, “enables others’ success.”  With that mantra in mind, he has served on many non-profit boards.  He currently serves on five, including on the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution.

In 2007, the opening of The Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard [3] was celebrated at the Smithsonian Institution.  It is a signature element of the renovated National Historic Landmark building that houses the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.  Its elegant glass canopy was designed by the world-renowned architectural firm Foster + Partners, with acclaimed landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson on the design of the interior.  At 28,000 square feet, the Courtyard is one of the largest public event spaces in the nation’s capital, as well as a public venue for the museums’ performances, lectures and special events.

Along with success in business and the joy of philanthropy, Mr. Kogod and his wife pursue a life-enriching passion for art collecting.  This in turn, naturally finds them again as supporters of our national cultural institutions and stewards of some of the most significant artworks.

Through thoughtfully-designed developments, Mr. Kogod has reimagined underutilized spaces into ones that increase opportunities and grow communities.  And through his remarkable philanthropic work, he has elevated the importance of art, design, and learning in our communities.  We could not be more thrilled than to honor this dedication to the public good with the Keystone Award.

Honoring the design world’s foremost influencers, AAF’s Accent on Architecture Gala is one of the prime opportunities to celebrate the achievements of design and cultivate lasting partnerships. The 2016 Gala also honored M. Arthur Gensler, Jr., FAIA, FIIDA, RIBA [4] and founder of Gensler, with the George M. White Award. [5]

Proceeds from the Gala directly support the work of the American Architectural Foundation and its three international design centers, which provide design leadership and sustainability programs to leaders in architecture, design, education, public policy, urban planning, and historic preservation.

Slideshow photographs courtesy of David Hathcox.