Obituary: Gerald D. Hines |

Obituary: Gerald D. Hines



Gerald D. Hines


Gerald D. Hines, founder and chairman of the international real estate firm Hines, who brought architectural excellence, superior engineering and peerless integrity to international real estate development, passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, August 23, 2020, surrounded by family. Born in Gary, Indiana on August 15, 1925, he recently celebrated his 95th birthday. Hines will be laid to rest in a private family ceremony in Aspen, Colorado. A celebration of his life will be held at a future date when it is safe to congregate.

Widely regarded as a leading visionary in the commercial real estate industry, Hines founded his namesake firm in Houston in 1957. He grew the business from a one-man operation into today’s international real estate investment powerhouse, renowned for developing, owning and managing some of the world’s most recognizable architectural landmarks across five continents. With more than 4,800 employees, Hines today is active in 225 cities in 25 countries.

In business and private life alike, Gerald Hines was driven by a

powerful desire to always know and do more and to share his enthusiasm with others. An avid outdoorsman and adventurer, Hines was known among family members, friends and colleagues for leading spirited climbing expeditions, backcountry ski trips and cycling trips around the world. He was a passionate skier and developed the Aspen Highlands ski area as a co-owner of the Aspen Ski Company, skiing into his 90s. With his wife Barbara, he sailed around the world on the Lady B, a sailboat he designed. Following a diagnosis of advanced heart disease in his fifties, he became a pioneering champion of a plant-based diet and exercise and was an early supporter of Dr. Dean Ornish, a leader in the field of lifestyle medicine.

As dedicated to his family as to his career, Hines was devoted to his children and grandchildren, three of whom work for the Hines firm, which is led by his son Jeffrey. He maintained family homes in Houston, Aspen, New York, Greenwich, CT and London, and traveled widely with his family in tow as he expanded his business across the globe.

Gerald was a modest man with a big heart, and touched many lives with his signature humility, generosity, humor and grace. Although he achieved great acclaim and success, Hines never forgot his humble beginnings or lost sight of his core values. His father, (Robert) Gordon Hines, was an electrician in a steel mill in Gary, Indiana, and Gerald grew up during the Great Depression within sight of the Chicago skyline. Upon seeing the Windy City’s iconic Wrigley Building on a childhood trip, Hines recalled saying to himself, “Someday I’d like to build one of those.”

He would go on to fulfill that dream many times over, developing more than 907 projects in the world’s greatest cities, including more than 100 buildings over 25 stories, and the tallest office towers in Texas, San Francisco and Italy, among others. Some of Hines’ most notable developments include Pennzoil Place in Houston; the ‘Lipstick Building’ in Manhattan; Salesforce Tower in San Francisco; Tour EDF in Paris; and Diagonal Mar in Barcelona.

After serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stationed in Fort Lewis, Washington between 1943 and 1946, Hines graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1948. He accepted a job with American Blower Corporation, a manufacturer of HVAC equipment. Given a choice of four cities, he chose Houston where he saw opportunities in the growing market of air-conditioned buildings. Starting out, he lived with fraternity brothers from Purdue at the YMCA. Hines then became a partner of Texas Engineering Co., designing mechanical systems for commercial/industrial buildings, and it was during these years that he got to know buildings inside and out.

Hines’ entrepreneurial instincts soon led him to start his own venture.

His reputation grew with his first two high-profile projects: downtown Houston’s One Shell Plaza, the tallest building in Texas when completed in 1971 and still the world’s tallest lightweight concrete structure; and The Galleria, the landmark shopping center that catalyzed Houston’s booming Uptown district.

Starting a trend of working with internationally known designers that would anchor his professional legacy and reshape skylines around the world, Hines hired the celebrated architect Bruce Graham of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and the legendary structural engineer Fazlur Khan for the Shell headquarters project. After an inspirational visit to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Hines tapped Gyo Obata of HOK to design The Galleria in Houston which is also distinguished by its light-filled, barrel-vault atrium, and its innovative, mixed-use amenities. With superior aesthetics and a center court ice rink serving as kinetic art, Hines was able to lure luxury tenants, including the first Neiman Marcus outside of Dallas, and set a new bar for shopping center design.

Following the critical and financial success of these flagship projects, Hines embarked on another tower in downtown Houston, Pennzoil Place, in collaboration with Philip Johnson and John Burgee—design partners with whom he would complete 15 projects over two decades. With its twin trapezoids in stunning counterpoint, Pennzoil Place was architecturally significant as well as commercially strategic in allowing leases to two major anchor tenants, Pennzoil and Zapata. The achievement put the Hines firm on the map, crowned by acclaim from architectural critic and historian Ada Louise Huxtable who, writing for The New York Times declared Pennzoil the “building of the decade.”

Huxtable praised Hines for his focus on creating superb art and architecture. His determination to prove that great design by prominent architects could be commercially successful, revolutionized the real estate industry, and improved the quality of commercial buildings in major U.S. cities by raising the bar ever higher. Throughout his career, Hines teamed with such renowned architects as Frank Gehry; Jean Nouvel; Sir Norman Foster; I.M. Pei and Harry N. Cobb; Phillip Johnson and John Burgee; Cesar Pelli and Fred Clarke; Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo; Robert A.M. Stern; A. Eugene Kohn and William E. Pedersen; Charles Moore; Jon Pickard and William Chilton; Arthur Gensler; and Richard Meier, among many others.

In 2007, David Childs, chairman emeritus of SOM, said, “Hines’ attention to architecture has been good not only for the profession but also for urbanism, as his unwavering concern for the quality of his buildings extends—beyond the plot of land and the frame of the site—to the community.” Paul Goldberger, noted architectural critic writing for The New York Times, commented, “For me, architecture will be Gerald Hines’ greatest legacy, since few people have done as much as he has to make architecture a truly public, and genuinely popular, art in our time.”

Broad success in Hines’ adopted hometown of Houston led to growth across the U.S. by

establishing large offices in major hubs including New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and Chicago, and expanding from there. Hines made London his home base from 1996 to 2010, having previously transferred day-to-day operations to his son, Jeff, who became the firm’s CEO and president in 1990. While living abroad, Hines oversaw the opening and expansion of offices across Western and Eastern Europe, establishing a footprint that is still growing across the continent. Hines brought new standards of excellence to real estate in emerging markets such as Russia and China, where the firm has been active since the ’90s.

Hines’ bold and pioneering leadership in sustainability has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Green Building Council, Global Green USA and similar organizations in South America, Europe and Asia. His respect for the integrity of local architecture and native culture, and his ongoing efforts to add public spaces, parks, water features, art, music, opera and other open amenities to commercial projects continues to enhance the quality of life in communities around the world.

Both professionally and philanthropically, Hines’ inspiring legacy will touch people throughout the world for decades to come. His mother, Myrtle McConnell Hines, was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Nova Scotia and instilled in him the importance of education. The College of Architecture and Design at the University of Houston is named in his honor, and he championed, taught at and supported real estate, architecture and urban planning programs at Yale, Harvard and Rice universities.

Hines valued sharing experience and knowledge with younger generations, so he created and permanently endowed the Urban Land Institute’s Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition and contributed to Purdue University, Yale University and The Wharton School, among many other institutions.

Hines was active in civic and charitable contributions that had significant impact. In 1966, he co-founded and served on the board of the Harris County Hospital District Foundation to provide greater health care access for underserved communities. In 1968, he was instrumental in creating the Houston Area Urban League, which helps minorities secure economic equality and civil rights. From 1981 to 1983, Hines served as chairman of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank under Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

Throughout his career, Hines was recognized with numerous industry awards. An Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Hines was awarded honorary doctorates from Purdue University and the University of Houston and was inducted into the North Texas Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame along with his son Jeff. He was awarded the Urban Land Institute’s Prize for Visionary Urban Development; the National Building Museum’s Honor Award; MIPIM’s Man of the Year Award; the Lynn S. Beedle Award from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats; the Harvard Design School inaugural Visionary Leadership in Real Estate Award; The Good Design is Good Business Patron Award presented by Architectural Record and the American Architectural Foundation; the Cornell Real Estate Industry Leader Award; and the History Making Texan Award from the Texas State History Museum Foundation. Together with his wife Barbara, he was recognized by the Holocaust Museum of Houston with its Guardian of the Human Spirit Award.

Gerald D. Hines was the eldest child of Gordon and Myrtle Hines. His sister, Audrey Watt, predeceased him, as did his former wife, Dorothy “Dot” Schwartz, whom

he married in 1952.

Together they had two children: Jeffrey Hines (Wendy Jones Hines) and Jennifer Hines Robertson, both of Houston. In 1981, he married artist Barbara Fritzsche Hines of Germany and Australia. Together they had two children: Serena Hines of New York City and Trevor Hines (Raizy Sessel Hines) of Los Angeles. Hines is survived by his beloved wife Barbara, his four children, 15 beloved grandchildren, 13 nieces and nephews and one great-grandson.

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, those wishing to make memorial donations contribute to the endowment of the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design

at the University of Houston, 122 College of Architecture Building, Houston, Texas, 77204-4000, phone 713-743-2400, or to the charity of their choice.