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Hines: The Man, The Company

10/01/2010 1:00 PM e14"633
Gerald D. Hines, Founder and Chairman, Hines

Description: An iconic figure in real estate development, Gerald D. Hines relates lessons learned over his half"century career to an admiring industry audience.

Leveraging know"how in mechanical systems and project management, and not a small amount of chutzpah, Hines opened a one"man office in 1957 Houston, intent on buying, renovating and managing his own buildings. From this tiny start"up, the Hines development business has grown into an international powerhouse, controlling $22 billion in assets, and employing 3,300 people in 245 cities dealing with hundreds of millions of square feet of commercial, residential and mixed"use projects.

Hines ticks off a handful of reasons for this spectacular success. First, he believes in "quality architecture" and mechanical systems that provide good service at low cost. When buildings embody these principles, he says, you can "mitigate risk in any economic cycle." Such architects as Philip Johnson and Kevin Roche have drawn tenants to his buildings. You want to be the "last to lose occupancy and the first to gain it back," says Hines. Second, he advocates a steadfast commitment to sustainable technologies, which also "makes good business sense." Even in the era prior to LEED standards, Hines sought ways to streamline buildings for greater operating and energy efficiencies. Other lessons he imparts: there are opportunities in acquiring existing buildings if you are "sure you can add value;" and "mixed use development makes for better communities and a better world."

The average tenure for Hines' employees runs in the decades, and the company's organizational structure contributes in great part to this retention rate, as well as to its global successes. Hines describes the autonomy top managers enjoy in their various divisions. The company also offers these managers 50% of equity in new ventures. The "people leading the project have something to lose," says Hines, and a great deal to gain as well.

Hines sees a real estate landscape that is a lot tougher to break into today, and one fraught with great uncertainty, especially in current economic times. He was chairman of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank in the early 1980s, and witnessed a bust that "wiped out the real estate industry." He sees parallels today to those times, and warns his listeners, "Button down your hatches, guys, it could come overnight."

About the Speaker(s): Gerald D. Hines grew a one"man operation into one of the largest real estate investment, development and management firms in the world. Since its inception in 1957, Hines has developed or acquired more than 980 projects in 245 cities globally and 17 countries, representing more than 330 million square feet of commercial, residential, mixed"use and industrial projects. The Hines firm controls assets valued at approximately $22.9 billion and partners with major institutional investors as well as individual investors through the Hines REIT.

Hines is an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and has received the Urban Land Institute's J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development. An industry pioneer in aesthetics and sustainability, Hines has championed and supported real estate architecture and urban planning programs at Harvard, Yale and Rice universities; the College of Architecture at the University of Houston is named in his honor.

Host(s): School of Architecture and Planning, MIT Center for Real Estate

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