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Artful, Innovative, Committed: Hines Founder Gerald Hines Dies At 95

Global powerhouse developer Gerald Hines, the founder and chairman of real estate firm Hines, died at his home on Aug. 23. He was 95.

Developer Gerald Hines

Hines founded his company in Houston in 1957 and was responsible for developing some of the city’s most famous architectural landmarks, including The Galleria, JPMorgan Chase Tower, Pennzoil Place and One Shell Plaza in Downtown Houston.

Over the course of his career, Hines expanded his sights to other major cities such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago, London, Milan and Berlin. Other famous buildings in the U.S. include 101 California, San Francisco; One Ninety One Peachtree, Atlanta; Three First National Plaza, Chicago; and 53rd at Third, New York City.

The firm has developed more than 907 projects around the world, including 100 buildings over 25 stories, and the tallest office towers in Texas, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Italy. Hines is active in 225 cities, across 25 countries.

“Beyond his significant, impactful career and his pioneering contributions to architecture, sustainability and the built environment, Dad felt his greatest achievement is the team of dedicated professionals who have, and will continue to, carry on his legacy of peerless quality, integrity and innovation,” Hines’ son, Jeff Hines, said in a statement.

Jeff Hines has been running the firm since 1990 as president and CEO, and will now assume the role of chairman. Jeff Hines' daughter, Laura Hines-Pierce, also works at the firm as a managing director.

Born in Gary, Indiana, on Aug. 15, 1925, Hines graduated from Purdue University with a degree in mechanical engineering and later received honorary doctorates from both Purdue and the University of Houston.

Throughout his career, Hines chose to work with some of the most renowned architects in the world, including Lord Norman Foster, I.M. Pei and Harry N. Cobb, Cesar Pelli, Frank Gehry and Jon Pickard. The Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design on the University of Houston campus is named in his honor.

Gerald Hines posing with Pennzoil Place, shot by Annie Leibovitz.

Patricia Belton Oliver, the dean of the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design, met Hines in January 2010.

Oliver told Bisnow that Hines was highly involved with the school, which was named after him in 1997. Aside from donating money, he established scholarships, offered internships, lectured at the college, and traveled overseas with staff and students for international exhibitions.

“This is a man who was committed. He didn't just give us money and go on his merry way. He was committed to us, and that's just irreplaceable, it really is,” Oliver said.

Hines understood that architecture wasn’t just about aesthetics; rather, it played a fundamental role that contributed to his business.

“His principle is transmutable. He tested it in Houston and he took it on the road, but his principles were the same, wherever he was building,” Oliver said. “Good architecture actually contributed to the quality of the project, which therefore contributed to his bottom line. It was a good business strategy, and he was always ahead, he was always caring about what's coming, and what's the innovation that's down the road, that he could then employ in his architecture and in his projects.”

Pickard Chilton co-founding principal Jon Pickard worked with Hines to design the glittering 609 Main at Texas, a 48-story, 1.1.M SF office tower in Downtown Houston. Pickard said Hines had a meaningful impact on every city he chose to develop in.

“Gerald Hines engaged the power of architecture to positively transform cities across the globe,” Pickard said. “Gerry was an extraordinary person whose compelling vision and artful charm drew the very best from his colleagues and collaborators.”

Hines President and CEO Jeff Hines, Managing Director and Transformation Officer Laura Hines-Pierce and founder and Chairman Gerald Hines at Hines' International Women's Day event in 2019.

Houston restaurateur Tony Vallone told Bisnow Hines was a pivotal figure in the success of his fine dining Italian restaurant, Tony’s. 

As a young man, Vallone leased space for his small, modest Italian restaurant from Hines in 1965. Over time they developed a friendship that led to Hines taking a special interest in the future of Vallone’s restaurant. 

When Hines decided to build The Galleria on that same piece of land, he told Vallone that he wanted to move the restaurant to another building on Post Oak Boulevard. Hines also insisted that Vallone pivot to fine dining.

"He even took me to Chicago to meet with his people, to get ideas on how to design a fine dining restaurant,” Vallone said.

The investment paid off. Tony’s became a highly successful fine dining restaurant that has hosted celebrities, powerful business people and several U.S. presidents. Vallone spent a total of 40 years as Hines’ tenant, but remained good friends after the restaurant moved again in 2005.

“He always pushed me to do more – the man was very innovative, a born leader,” Vallone said.

Cameron Management founder and CEO Dougal Cameron started his commercial real estate career at Hines. He spent six years working under Hines, learning the business from him.

“Gerry Hines blessed my life in countless ways. He lived long and he lived well. I treasure every word he ever spoke to me,” Cameron told Bisnow.

Hines is survived by his wife, Barbara, four children, 15 grandchildren and one great-grandson. A private family ceremony will be held in Aspen, Colorado, and a celebration of his life will be held at a future date, when it is safe to congregate.

UPDATE, AUG. 24, 11:35 A.M. CT: This story has been updated to include comments from Patricia Belton Oliver and Dougal Cameron.

UPDATE, AUG. 24, 1:45 P.M. CT: This story has been updated to include comments from Jon Pickard and Tony Vallone.