Photo: Howard Castleberry / Houston Chronicle
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When you first set foot in Houston, it’s easy to spot the work of Gerald Hines, the visionary Texas developer who passed away peacefully at his Connecticut family estate on Sunday, Aug. 24. Hines transformed Houston’s cityscape, working with renowned architects to develop iconic buildings like the two 36-story towers of Pennzoil Place.
Hines was known for other significant Houston towers including Williams Tower (formerly Transco Tower), the former Bank of America building, and the JPMorgan Chase Tower, known as Houston’s tallest building standing at 75 stories. His firm also the Galleria Mall and Houston’s 50-story One Shell Plaza.
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Hines, an Indiana native started out his career as an engineer and then navigated his way as a prominent Houston developer.
“So eventually I went into office buildings, and a little better office buildings, until I got to the point that we engaged Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and won the competition for the One Shell Plaza building in 1966 — the first 50-story building we had ever done,” Hines once told the Washington Post. “It cost about $38 million — a big building in those days, and the largest building that had been financed by Houston banks, ever. Today that building would cost $170 million.”
It was in 1957 that Hines began his small property company in Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle. His firm employed 10 people in 1966.
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Hines continued to pour resources and love to his adopted hometown of Houston. He donated $7 million to the University of Houston’s architecture school which bears his legacy and name. In his close circle of friends were internationally-renowned architects who designed his buildings, including Robert A.M. Stern, John Burgee, Art Gensler, and Philip Johnson.
Hines is survived by his wife, Barbara, his four children, 15 grandchildren and one great grandson, the Houston Chronicle reported. He will be laid to rest in a private ceremony in Aspen, Colorado. A celebration of life for Hines will follow at a later date when it’s safe for loved ones to gather.
To learn more about Hines’ life and legacy, read more here.