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Gerald D. HinesEven if you've never before heard the name Gerald D. Hines, chances are good you’re familiar with his handiwork. Hines developed the high-profile Galleria shopping, office, and hotel complex at LBJ Freeway and the Dallas North Toll way. And that’s just one of the nearly 500 projects built by his Houston-based Hines Interests Ltd., one of the largest real estate developers in the country. Many Hines projects have won recognition and awards because he builds landmarks—buildings that catch the eye and make you want to go inside.

Go to any major city in the United States and some of the most prestigious office projects are likely to be Hines properties. A few examples: The trapezoidal towers called Pennzoil Place in Houston, the cylindrical 101 California St. in San Francisco, Columbia Square just east of the White House, 53rd at Third in Manhattan, and the Norwest Center in Minneapolis.

Several of his projects feature sculptures from accomplished artists such as Henry Moore and Joan Miro from Spain. And many of them are designed by well-known architects such as I. M. Pei, John Burgee, and Phillip C. Johnson. So consistently distinctive are his developments, which aren’t limited to just office towers, that he has been made an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects.

You’d expect such feats to swell the ego, but Hines is surprisingly down-to-earth. Despite the towering nature of his achievements, he said his greatest accomplishment is his family. "They’re outstanding," Hines said during a conversation on his cellular phone from London, where he now resides. Hines was born in Gary, Ind., and grew up during the Depression. "I was in a working-class family," he said. "When I wanted a bicycle, my father couldn’t afford it. But he showed me how to earn the money to buy one."

He started by selling magazines, continued working, mostly doing bard labor, and decided that the financial struggle of college would be worth it in the long run. Hines graduated from Purdue University in 1948 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Indeed, earning money was something Hines ultimately learned how to do well. Throughout his career, which took off after he moved to Houston, Hines has several times landed on Fortune magazine’s list of wealthiest Americans.

But what he’s learned to amass he’s also learned to give away. Most recently, he gave $7 million to the University of Houston’s College of Architecture. The school responded by renaming the college for him. Hines also has given away his expertise over the years, most notably by serving as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas from 1981-1983.

These days, Hines’ son Jeff runs the day-to-day operations of the company, while the elder Hines oversees the company’s vast expansion into Europe and Asia. He doesn’t have much use for the word "retirement," having never really viewed real estate development as a job.

Success, he said, comes easy when you like what you do. "When you do something you really enjoy, you do your best," he said. "Don’t worry about how much money you earn. Let the money be secondary."


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