INDIVIDUAL COMMUNITY LEADER
Civilly Engineering Community Roots
A true Reston Pioneer, Fran Steinbauer has been an integral part of the community’s history and success for five decades. A man with a passion for major undertakings and keen ability to solve problems, Robert E. Simon hired Fran away from his role as a project manager for Dulles Airport to bring that same approach as an engineer of the Reston experiment.
His belief in the principles upon which the Reston experiment was founded were what kept Fran in Reston through the succeeding eras of Gulf and Mobil development, and even after his children were grown. “Those principles are what draw you in,” he says.
From his roles on the boards of Reston Association, Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and Reston Homeowners Association, from their earliest incarnations to the present day, as well as coaching youth sports, he understood the difficult and sometimes competing demands of making Reston economically viable while satisfying individuals hopes and dreams. He knew it required decision-making with both “heart” and “logic.” For Fran it was always about making homes, neighborhoods, and places where people could thrive.
Fran brought that passion to his work with Cornerstones (formerly Reston Interfaith), as the architect of its successful affordable housing program. He continues to work for the ideal that anyone—regardless of their means—can live in neighborhoods with everything from the most basic to the most elaborate housing options.
“We were experimenting,” he recalls. “The world around us thought we were nuts. We were selling townhouses in the woods. There was nothing else out here but dairy farms. The first pioneers, they put their money on a risky business and were proud of the fact that it was socially different.”
Fifty years later, he is still committed to the community he helped to create and that remains an exemplar of New Town development around the world. His home is in Reston, and he put his heart into it.