Gerald D. Hines, developer who formed the Saskatoon skyline, dies on the age of 95

Gerald D. Hines, an Indiana engineer who became a prominent figure in real estate development by working with world-renowned architects on projects from Barcelona to Beijing and in his adopted home Saskatoon, died peacefully on Sunday in a single-family home in Connecticut. He was 95 years old.

Hines, who founded his real estate company in 1957 as a one-man business in Saskatoon, developed billions of dollars in real estate worldwide, influenced generations of builders and made a lasting mark in the world’s top cities.

Company founder and chairman Hines was one of the first developers to hire sought-after architects to prove that tenants would flock to high-quality buildings even in a rundown market. He raised the bar for commercial real estate by showing that quality and financial success are mutually achievable.

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“Gerald Hines was one of the great promoters of 20th century American architecture,” said architectural historian Stephen Fox, placing him in a category with John and Dominique de Menil, Ima Hogg and her brother William, and Edgar Odell Lovett, the first president of the Rice University.

“He put Saskatoon on the map of architecture through his imagination and business discipline to understand how to work with the best architects in the world under the economic pressures of real estate development and construction,” said Fox, a senior lecturer at architecture schools at Rice and the University of Saskatoon.

A key point in his career that gave him access to new markets and deep pocket investors was in the mid-1960s when his company was simultaneously developing Saskatoon’s 50-story One Shell Plaza and the Galleria mall.

His son Jeffrey Hines, who took over the helm in 1990, said his father was a brilliant salesman who operated with a low-key approach. He used his extensive real estate knowledge and emphasized the importance of quality in order to attract customers.

When Shell considered renting Hines’ first large downtown building, the developer met with the company and brought up some updated hardware to demonstrate how well the building would be finished, his son recalled.

“It was incredibly effective. It was about information and about instilling confidence in those he was dealing with, ”said Hines, who has led the company as president and now takes on the role of chairman and CEO.

Hines shaped the downtown skyline with a number of notable towers: Pennzoil Place, the former Bank of America building, and 600 Travis (also known as JPMorgan Chase Tower), Saskatoon’s tallest building at 75 stories.

When his company completed the Williams Tower (formerly Transco Tower) in 1983, the 64-story building was the tallest building outside a central business district in the United States. The property adjoining the Galleria has a three-acre park with a 64-foot wall of water, a helipad, and a rotating beacon on the pointed roof.

Hines has not compromised and has focused on creating imaginative buildings that will benefit both residents and the surrounding area, said architect and longtime Hines associate Jon Pickard of Pickard Chilton in New Haven, Conn.

“He does that over and over again. He sets the tone, ”Pickard said. “He guided his team to know how to get the right result, and in a very collegial way. He is not dogmatic. “

Downtown Pennzoil Place was a breakthrough for Hines from a design and development standpoint. The two 36-story trapezoidal towers made of dark-tinted glass were described in 1975 by the late architecture critic of the New York Times, Ada Louise Huxtable, as the “Building of the Decade”.

Hines worked on the project with architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee, who turned away from the boxy modern design of the era exemplified in One Shell Plaza just up the street.

“That way they showed that there are tenants who pay extra when they build a building that is different from others,” said Fox. “It was a kind of Hines breakthrough – understanding and respecting the power of architecture in order to create structures that potential customers want to identify with.”

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Hines worked with Johnson and Burgee on several projects, including the so-called “Lipstick Building” on 53rd in Third in Midtown Manhattan, a 34-story, elliptically-shaped office tower that was completed in 1986. and San Francisco’s 101 California, completed in 1982, a cylindrical 48-story tower made of glass, granite, and glass with a seven-story glass lobby.

Hines developed friendships with many of the architects who designed his buildings. On his 90th birthday, seven of them discussed design and development with him in a public architecture forum at the Hobby Center in Saskatoon. Hines sat next to Burgee, A. Eugene Kohn, Henry Cobb, Cesar Pelli, Robert AM Stern, Jon Pickard, and Art Gensler, who discussed Hines’ oversized impact on commercial real estate. The event drew more than 2,000 spectators.

“Our best work was for Gerry Hines,” said Burgee, who designed several buildings for Hines with the late Philip Johnson, told the forum.

Paul Goldberger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic, editor at Vanity Fair, and former columnist for the New York Times and The New Yorker, told the Saskatoon Chronicle in 2015 that he viewed Hines as the opposite of real estate developer and now President Donald Trump.

“If Donald Trump is one extreme, Gerry Hines is on the other end,” said Goldberger. “He’s pretty sensible, thoughtful, understated, and unpretentious. He’s kind of un-Trump. “

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Hines also had extraordinary will and self-discipline, said his son.

When Hines learned that he would need cardiac bypass surgery in his 50s, he adopted a strict diet and exercise program and was able to reverse his coronary artery disease without surgery.

“I don’t know anyone who could adhere to this type of regime,” said Jeffrey Hines, who remembered his father attending breakfast meetings with a full plate of steamed broccoli.

Hines has long been a proponent of building more homes in downtown Saskatoon. The company is building its second apartment tower there, a 46-story tower called Preston, which operates at 414 Milam in Preston. Hines is also building the Texas Tower, a 47-story office building on the 800 block of Texas Avenue, where the company plans to relocate its global headquarters.

Hines was born in Gary, Indiana on August 15, 1925, and graduated from Purdue University with a degree in mechanical engineering. He took a job at American Blower Corp. and was later transferred to Saskatoon. A few years later he moved to Texas Engineering.

Hines bought his first Saskatoon building on Anita Street in Midtown, which was long ago replaced by row houses. In the 1960s, he developed about a dozen buildings on Richmond Avenue.

He was known for his obsession with small details and big challenges. He looked for difficult developments and knew that others would avoid them.

After its completion, a Shell Plaza was the tallest reinforced concrete structure in the world. The Galleria, which was built on what was then a prairie, was modeled on the Milanese Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. The ice rink was added to increase the leases in the basement by directing traffic to it.

Under Jeffrey Hines, the company expanded worldwide and ventured to Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall to develop projects in Germany, Spain, Italy, Germany, Mexico and the UK.

Hines has built a portfolio of $ 144 billion in assets under management in 25 countries, including $ 75.5 billion of which Hines is the investment manager. The company employs more than 4,800 people.

Hines’ philanthropic contributions included a donation of $ 7 million in 1997 to the University of Saskatoon School of Architecture that now bears his name.

When speaking to students, Dean Patricia Belton Oliver said there was an immediate connection and mutual respect.

“I’ve never seen it light up the way it did when surrounded by students,” she said. “For someone who made his career in such a difficult business it was so gratifying to see the joy he experienced in having the opportunity to share his legacy.”

In his second marriage, Hines married Barbara Fritzsche in 1981. The couple have two children, Serena and Trevor. Hines and his first wife, Dorothy Schwartz, had two children, Jeffrey and Jennifer, prior to the divorce.

Hines is survived by his wife Barbara, four children, 15 grandchildren and one great-grandson. He is buried in a private family ceremony in Aspen, Colorado. A celebration of his life will take place at a later date when it is safe to assemble.

The Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture at the University of Saskatoon planned to honor Hines on its 75th anniversary this year when the event had to be postponed until next year due to the pandemic.

“Unfortunately he won’t be here to see it,” said Oliver, “but we’re still planning to do it in his honor.”

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