Robert E. Simon

Robert E. Simon
Born (1914-04-10)April 10, 1914
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died September 21, 2015(2015-09-21) (aged 101)
Reston, Virginia, U.S.
Residence Reston, Virginia
Alma mater Harvard University

Robert E. "Bob" Simon, Jr. (April 10, 1914 – September 21, 2015) was an American real estate entrepreneur, most known for founding the community of Reston, Virginia.[1][2][3] He was the maternal uncle of feminist historian and writer Elizabeth Fox-Genovese.[4]

Early life

Simon was born in New York City in 1914[5] to a family that immigrated from Germany.[6][7]


After graduating from Harvard University, Simon took over the family real estate management and development business. In 1961, with the proceeds from the sale of a family property, Carnegie Hall, Simon purchased 6,750 acres (27 km²) of land in Fairfax County, Virginia and hired Conklin + Rossant[8] to develop a master plan for the new town of Reston, Virginia, a planned community well known on the national level. (The town's name was derived from Simon's initials and the word "town".)[3][9] Simon's new town concept emphasized quality of life for the individual and provided a community where people could live, work, and play without driving long distances.

Simon returned to live in Reston in 1993[9] and helped celebrate Reston's 40th birthday in 2004.[10] In that same year a bronze statue of Simon was placed on a park bench in Washington Plaza on Lake Anne, the original heart of the community he built.[3][10]

Goals of Reston

Simon wrote in 1962 that:

In the creation of Reston, Virginia, these are the major goals:
  1. That the widest choice of opportunities be made available for the full use of leisure time. This means that the New Town should provide a wide range of cultural and recreational facilities as well as an environment for privacy.
  2. That it be possible for anyone to remain in a single neighborhood throughout his life, uprooting being neither inevitable nor always desirable. By providing the fullest range of housing styles and prices – from high-rise efficiencies to 6-bedroom townhouses and detached houses – housing needs can be met at a variety of income levels and at different stages of family life. This kind of mixture permits residents to remain rooted in the community if they so choose – as their particular housing needs change. As a by-product, this also results in the heterogeneity that spells a lively and varied community.
  3. That the importance and dignity of each individual be the focal point for all planning, and take precedence for large-scale concepts.
  4. That the people be able to live and work in the same community.
  5. That commercial, cultural and recreational facilities be made available to the residents from the outset of the development – not years later.
  6. That beauty – structural and natural – is a necessity of the good life and should be fostered.
  7. Since Reston is being developed from private enterprise, in order to be completed as conceived it must also, of course, be a financial success.
    "A Brief History of Reston"[3]


  1. McFadden, Robert D. (September 21, 2015). "Robert E. Simon Jr., Who Created a Town, Reston, Va., Dies at 101". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  2. Morello, Carol (March 25, 2004). "At Home With His Creation". Washington Post. p. T8.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "A Brief History of Reston". Reston Historic Trust. Retrieved 2013-06-30. Original work: Gulf Reston, Inc (1970). A Brief History of Reston, Virginia.
  4. Fox and Simon Family Papers, 1862–1991, UNC.
  5. "House Joint Resolution No. 1009, Commending Robert E. Simon". Commonwealth of Virginia. February 28, 2009. Retrieved 2013-06-30.
  6. "Douglas Ambrose", Christendom review, 1 (2).
  7. "Fox‐Genovese, Elizabeth Ann", Encycloedia, J rank.
  8. "James Rossant - Architect". December 17, 2005. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  9. 1 2 McKeon, Nancy (August 16, 1999). "A Town Grows in Fairfax". Washington Post. p. A1. Retrieved 2013-06-30.
  10. 1 2 "Reston Celebrates 40 Years!". Myers Public Relations. April 14, 2004. Retrieved 2013-06-30.

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