Hines's Skyline

A Heavyweight Houston Developer Gets His Legacy Biography

At 91, Gerald Hines gets a 450-page celebration of his life and work.

By Roxanna Asgarian August 8, 2016

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Gerald Hines, whose iconic real estate developments — from Pennzoil Place to Bank of America Center — dot the Houston skyline.

Now 91 years old, Gerald Hines has become more selective about media appearances, and leaves much of the day-to-day leadership of his massive real estate development company to his son, Jeff. 

These days, the Houstonian prefers to spend his time traveling, whether it's to look at his company's new real estate developments underway around the world or to have adventures with his family—he still skis an average of 3o days every year. 

In a new book released last week, Vanity Fair contributing editor Mark Seal chronicles the man who's become somewhat of a legend in the worlds of architecture and real estate development, and the book spends a lengthy amount of time looking at the importance of Houston to the rise of a developer now known for high-profile trophy towers around the world.

The book delves into Hines's biography, from his childhood in Gary, Indiana, to his training as an engineer at Purdue. Hines's training as an engineer led him to a love of buildings inside and out — he's known to get his suits dirty crawling through not-yet-completed buildings to show off their state-of-the-art HVAC systems to clients. His trademark prop, too, comes from his engineering days—he carries an old-school slide rule in his pocket, which he uses to make quick calculations and to stall for time during intense negotiations.

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Hines's 450-page biography is out now.

After Purdue, Hines moved to Houston in 1948, where his career began. One of Hines's most famous early structures is the Galleria, which pioneered both the area of the city, which was then pasture, and the concept of a destination mall and of the now-hot "mixed-use" development—when it opened in 1970, no one had heard of a year-round ice-skating rink in an air-conditioned shopping mall.

That's Hines in a nutshell—known for big ideas that are pulled off through meticulous attention to detail, and for his unique partnerships with starchitects and world-renowned structural engineers that raise the standards of what people expect from buildings.

The biography, aptly titled Raising the Bar: The Life and Works of Gerald D. Hines, includes a cover photo by Annie Leibovitz, historical images from Hines's childhood and gorgeous shots of some of Hines's most famous works. For hardcore fans of the man himself or of Houston architecture, this tome is worth adding to your coffee table.

Raising the Bar: The Life and Works of Gerald D. Hines, $35, amazon.com


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