I’m motivated by the excitement of constructing an outstanding quality building. I enjoy building, and I think the main thing is that you want to go into something that you really enjoy, that you can’t wait to get up in the morning to do. Then you will be successful. It doesn’t matter what the money is. And that’s the way I feel. I didn’t always know I wanted to be in real estate. I supplied mechanical equipment to buildings, and I just got to know buildings very well. Then I thought I would like to build them. I went from there to starting a five-thousand-square-foot office warehouse. That was my first building.We always had problems. When you go into a foundation and all of a sudden the soil isn’t what the engineers predicted, you have to change the way you are going to build the foundation. So you have to be able to look at a lot of different solutions and bring in the best people you can, review the risk, and make a decision. We give a lot of authority and responsibility to our people, so we delegate down. When we are doing things worldwide, the suggestions for projects come from the people who are on the ground at that spot at that time and know the market. You move in relation to opportunities. You may have a plan for this year, but it will change. You have to keep changing your plan because the markets are changing.
My favorite buildings are the ones that we really had to struggle to complete: One Shell Plaza, the Galleria, Pennzoil Place. Those were very, very significant buildings in the chronology of our success because they were so early and we were learning so much. When I drive by one of my skyscrapers, I get a real sense of satisfaction. You get to see a physical representation of your work product, and not many people get a chance to do that. It’s not just a piece of paper; it’s a physical symbol out there.
Houston-based developer Gerald Hines was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. After graduating with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1948, he began work as an engineer in an air conditioner manufacturing company. He entered the real estate business in 1949 with a small warehouse and in 1957 founded Hines Interests. By 1965 Hines was the biggest developer in Houston and embarking on his downtown debut: the 51-story One Shell Plaza, the tallest building in Texas at that time. The success of the Shell building led to others, most notably Pennzoil Place. As the founder and chairman of privately owned Hines Interests, he oversees a portfolio of properties valued in excess of $9 billion.