Robert H. Smith
Robert Hilton Smith
July 21, 1928
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||December 29, 2009 (aged 81)|
Crystal City, Virginia, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Maryland, College Park|
|Occupation||Real estate developer, philanthropist|
|Known for||Development of Crystal City|
David Bruce Smith
Stephen Smith (deceased)
Robert Hilton Smith (July 21, 1928 – December 29, 2009) was an American builder-developer and philanthropist. After taking over his father's real estate development business, Smith developed much of the Crystal City neighborhood, just south of Washington, D.C.
Early life and education
Smith was born to a Jewish family, the son of Leah (née Goldstein) and Charles E. Smith. His father was a Jewish immigrant from Russia who founded the Charles E. Smith Companies in 1946. The company grew to become one of the largest commercial and residential landlords in the Washington, D.C., area, managing 24,000,000 square feet (2,200,000 m2) of office space and more than 30,000 residential units. Smith graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Starting in the early 1960s, Smith developed the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, just south of Washington, DC, which at the time, Smith said "was very unattractive" but Smith saw that "there was an airport, there was The Pentagon, and that driving to D.C. was a pretty short distance". Smith attracted government leases by offering discounted rents that did not go up over time.
In 1988, an article in the Washington Post estimated his net worth to be $290 million.
In 2001, the residential division of the company was merged into Archstone, which was sold to Equity Residential and Avalon Bay in 2013. The commercial division of the company was merged into Vornado Realty Trust, which merged the division into JBG Smith in 2017.
Education and research
Smith gave a total of approximately $100 million to the University of Maryland, College Park, his alma mater, including $30 million each to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, completed in 2001 and named after his wife, Clarice Smith, and the business school, Robert H. Smith School of Business, which was named after him in 1998.
Historic preservation efforts
Smith's donations help fund the Robert H. & Clarice Smith Auditorium at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens.
Smith donated to fund the visitor's center at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation renamed its International Center for Jefferson Studies the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies after Smith endowed the Center in 2004.
On November 3, 2007, the National Society of Madison Family Descendants awarded the Madison Family Cup to Robert H. Smith for his extraordinary contributions to James Madison’s legacy and the preservation and development of Montpelier.
Smith collected European paintings before donating his collection to the National Gallery of Art. Smith served as President of the gallery between 1993 and 2003, during which the museum expanded significantly.
Smith's family also gave charitably to several Jewish communal causes in the greater Washington, DC, area, including the Charles E. Smith Life Communities, a senior housing and elder care campus in Rockville, Maryland, and the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, also in Rockville. Both organizations are named for Smith's father.
He served as chairman of the board of governors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem from 1981 to 1985 and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in 1984. He served as president of the Washington D.C. chapter of the American Friends of the Hebrew University.
The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment was named for him due to his support. He was the primary funder for a project estimated at approximately 70 million dollars to enable the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment to combat the growing challenge of the global food shortage. 
National Humanities Medal
In 1952, Smith married artist Clarice Smith, née Chasen. They had three children, Michelle and David, and Stephen (died 2003). They resided in Crystal City, Virginia until his death of a stroke in December 2009. Services were held at Adas Israel Congregation in Cleveland Park, DC.
- Smith, David Bruce (2000). Conversations with Papa Charlie: A Memory of Charles E. Smith. Capital Books, Inc. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-892123-34-3. Retrieved 2010-02-16.
- Haggerty, Maryann (February 5, 1996). "Empire of the Son and Son-in-Law; Robert Smith and Robert Kogod Build on a Real Estate Foundation" (PDF). The Washington Post.
A devout Jew, Smith became active in the Washington Jewish community in the 1950s.
- Plumb, Tierney; Castro, Melissa; Krouse, Sarah (December 30, 2009). "Developer, philanthropist Robert H. Smith dies". Washington Business Journal.
- Schudel, Matt; Shapiro, T. Rees (December 31, 2009). "Robert Smith, 81, dies; created Arlington's Crystal City". The Washington Post.
- Caprino, Mariann (October 11, 1988). "DESPITE THE CRASH, THE RICH ARE STILL RICH". The Washington Post.
- "In Memoriam: Robert H. Smith" (Press release). George Washington University. January 4, 2010.
- "Wilmer Eye Institute: Robert H. Smith Tribute". Johns Hopkins Hospital. January 1, 2010.
- Levenick, Christopher (Summer 2010). "Build. Hold. Give. A Tribute to Robert H. Smith". Philanthropy Roundtable.
- Robert H. Smith receives the Madison Cup in 2007
- "Robert H. Smith, President Emeritus, National Gallery of Art" (Press release). National Gallery of Art. December 31, 2009.
- Judkis, Maura (January 1, 2010). "Critical Appreciation: Robert H. Smith, Arts Patron". Washington City Paper.
- "Hebrew U. mourns passing of dedicated leader, philanthropist Robert H. Smith" (Press release). Hebrew University of Jerusalem. January 3, 2010.
- "Hebrew U. to present first-ever Einstein Award to Bill Gates at gala dinner in New York" (Press release). Hebrew University of Jerusalem. December 1, 2008.
- Ferington, Esther (November 17, 2008). "AWARDS & HONORS: 2008 NATIONAL HUMANITIES MEDALIST: Robert H. Smith". National Endowment for the Humanities.
- "Smith, Steven C." The Washington Post. July 4, 2003.