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Letter from Dean Oliver

From the Office of the Dean

August 24, 2020

Dear Hines College Community,

Yesterday we lost a friend. I am truly saddened by the passing of Gerald D. Hines. At the Venice Biennale in 2014, we had a wonderful dinner at a small trattoria. It was the end of our trip and the faculty and students were celebrating the opening of our exhibition. We were beginning to plan Mr. Hines’ 90th birthday to be held at the College. He got a far-away look on his face and when I asked what he was thinking, he said he wished he could live for another 90 years.

In truth, his legacy will live on. We see a college forever transformed by his commitment and generosity to our students. His imprint is on the international studios and his legacy lives in the internships he has funded. Beyond the College, the Houston skyline pays tribute to him and projects of extraordinary impact populate the major cities around the globe. He proved that architecture and design provided value and forever changed the commercial real estate world.

Mr. Hines was a fervent supporter of the University of Houston. In 1997, he made a $7 million gift establishing a permanently endowed fund at the College of Architecture. The gift connected his world-renown name to the College and quickly elevated the institution’s stature in the architecture community.

It was important for Mr. Hines and his wife, Barbara, to advance with the College and engage with its students. Over the last ten years, they continued to support the College with additional gifts funding international programming, student scholarships, internships abroad, and most recently, the new Advanced Media Technology Lab.

As I mentioned above, Hines traveled to the Venice Biennale with students and faculty where the College won the Global Arts Foundation Prize for its exhibition. Three years later, Hines and his wife Barbara, traveled to Berlin, Germany, to participate in the College’s “Houston: Genetic City” exhibition opening and symposium at the most prestigious architecture gallery in Europe.

That level of involvement was totally in character. The first week I was in Houston, he called me up and invited me to lunch. He arrived with his architect, Jon Pickard and one of his Vice Presidents, John Mooz. We met at a tiny, little sandwich shop across the street from his BG Group Place project in Houston. Hunched around a tiny, rickety table these three giants of architecture and development quizzed me on the College and the plans for the future. He then asked if I wanted to tour his building. Before I knew it, we were crawling inside the state-of-the-art mechanical system on the 18th floor of the office tower. He was so excited to tell me how this new system was going to transform the energy consumption of the tower and make office life ten times more productive. He was a mechanical engineer, after all. From that 18th floor, we looked out toward Pennzoil Place and he regaled me with stories about why Philip Johnson built two towers instead of one, and how his One Shell Plaza was the tallest building in Houston when it was built in 1971. It was clearly his city. His VP took a picture of us and that picture graced the cover of the Hines newsletter that month. It was a memorable first meeting.

Yes, his legacy will live on. His gifts to Houston and his gifts to the College will live on. He showed us that architecture and design had the power to transform cities. His legacy is part of our DNA. He will be missed.

Warm regards,

Patricia Belton Oliver, FAIA, ACSA Distinguished Professor
Dean, Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design
University of Houston