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National Association of Realtors

Home is Where the Art Is




Creating Outdoor Sculpture Elements to Convey Core Values

After the National Association of Realtors (NAR)  completed construction of its sleek, new headquarters building in Washington, D.C., the organization desired an array of outdoor sculptural elements to complement the building’s contemporary façade, convey NAR’s mission, and evoke a sense of spirituality similar to that of the totems at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. 


NAR commissioned the work to Howard Smith and Smith Strategic, Inc. Taking inspiration from the FDR Memorial site, Smith conceived of an installation of five seven-foot tall cylindrical totems, each featuring timeless quotations about the ownership of land and property from such notables as Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost and others. 


In contrast to the busy public thoroughfare on New Jersey Avenue just blocks from The U.S. Capitol, the award-winning outdoor sculpture installation offers a quiet testament to the central importance of home in people’s lives. Thanks to their thoughtful design and construction, the structures work on both a grand and intimate scale.

Building a monument to home

To view the quotations, a visitor must peer through openings in the shapes of doors, windows or keyholes, adding a sense of playfulness and discovery. For younger visitors, more whimsical quotes were placed toward the bottom of the totems, such as “There’s no place like home” from The Wizard of Oz. Beth Singer designed the look of the totems, taking inspiration from 1920s architectural typography popular in Europe and the United States. 


Following the project’s completion, Smith Strategic joined forces with Beth Singer Design, and Howard Smith now serves as the chief strategist of BSD. This successful merger provides all BSD clients with design that is not only beautiful, but strategically inspired and directed as well.

The NAR Outdoor Totems were honored as one of the top 100 designs nationally by STEP Inside Design Magazine, and have been awarded 12 design awards for excellence.

They asked us to …

  • Create a lasting outdoor sculpture installation to complement their headquarters’ contemporary façade

  • Convey NAR’s mission of supporting the American dream of home ownership and its engaged members 

  • Provide a sense of spirituality similar to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

What happened was …

  • The team conceived of the sculptural elements, selected quotations, and designed every element of the structures

  • Smith Strategic collaborated with Art in Metal USA on material selection and a novel fabrication method that would hold up to vandalism and weather for many years

  • The National Association of Realtors now offers a permanent public space off the streetscape for contemplation and discovery

We Provided …

  • Communications strategy

  • Messaging

  • Sculpture design

  • Materials selection

  • Fabrication supervision

  • Installation oversight

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