Bob Gladstone (1929-2014).
The list of projects he developed, and neighborhoods he helped change, reads like a history of modern Washington. That’s because Bob Gladstone’s whole mission was to champion urban revitalization. And why his influence has been likened to that of Morris Cafritz, Oliver Carr, Ted Lerner and even Harry Wardman. The region lost that quiet force Christmas Eve.
Consider: The founding of Quadrangle Development Corp in 1971 in the wake of the ’68 riots, purposely to help rebuild downtown. The first building under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Avenue Redevelopment Corp (1301 Penn) to rejuvenate the capital’s Main Street. National Place (the JW Marriott, 450k SF of office, dozens of shops, a refurbished National Theatre) to resuscitate the F Street Corridor. The 897-room Grand Hyatt, DC’s first convention center hotel. The 1,175-room Marriott Marquis to breathe new life into the second convention center. And suburban placemakers like buildings on Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston and a 212-acre corporate park on Quince Orchard in Gaithersburg. Altogether 25M SF at a value of $10B. Capped by a ULI lifetime achievement award 10 years ago.
Bob grew up in Queens, graduated from Brooklyn Technical High in 1947 and MIT in 1952, then got a degree in regional planning from UNC. He moved to DC in 1959 to open an office for an Atlanta economic consulting firm, but within three years hung out his own shingle specializing in urban analysis. The firm grew to national prominence. In the early '60s he worked with Jim Rouse on Columbia, with others on Reston, and two decades later with Abe Pollin on relocating the Wizards from Landover to MCI Center. In the early '70s he even gave Chip Akridge his first development job—initially in his consulting firm and then as Quadrangle project manager for 2030 M Street, the firm’s first building. Above: Bob in a 1987 Washington Business Journal story with a model behind him of his 901 E Street, one of the first office buildings in Penn Quarter.
Bob is survived by Leslie, his wife of 63 years, whom he met while both were collegian students in Boston. An active MIT alum, he created a Gladstone Fund there for unrestricted support of the school’s work. And Bob and Leslie created a next generation, their kids Lise, Jessica and Chris (who’s Quadrangle’s president).
Here’s Bob with developer Sandy Wilkes and Rev. Joseph Norman Evans, pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church. Quadrangle and Wilkes have been partners with the church on an adjacent office and apartment project.
And with grandson Nicko in Alaska, on one of many adventures with grandkids to US national parks, Europe, the Galapagos, Machu Picchu and Africa.
We took this photo of Bob in 2007 at the groundbreaking for the fourth office building in their mixed-use Towers Crescent project in Tysons, here with Dan Bradley of capital partner AEW, project architect Steve Cohen of SmithGroup and Steve Speer of general contractor Hensel Phelps.
Presto, the finished building, where MicroStrategy is now headquartered. Just like Bob changed so much of Washington.