Rowlett Lecture spotlights Hines, Houston-based land developer

Tom Owens


Jerry Lea


Charlie Kuntz


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The 2018 edition of the John Miles Rowlett Lecture, an annual showcase of prestigious firms that shape and advance the built environment, will spotlight Houston-based Hines, one of the world’s leading real estate investment, development and management firms with more than $111 billion in assets in 24 countries.

Hines logo The event, “Hines: Building Teams, Making Places, Creating Value,” is set for 1:30 – 4 p.m., Wednesday, March 28, 2018 in the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center at Texas A&M University.

Online registration is underway for the lecture, hosted annually by the CRS Center for Leadership and Management in the Design and Construction Industry at the Texas A&M College of Architecture. Though the event is free and open to the public, preregistration is urged to aid event organizers.

Rowlett Lecture presenters, including Tom Owens ’73, Hines’ senior managing director and chief risk officer, will discuss the company’s industry-leading, innovative approaches to project customization, budgeting, scheduling and delivery.

Owens’ fellow executives Jerry Lea, executive vice president of conceptual construction, and Charlie Kuntz, the firm’s innovation officer, will also speak.

A 4 p.m. reception in the Annenberg lobby will conclude the event.

Owens, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Building Construction at Texas A&M and monitors Hines investments and services worldwide, has been with the firm for 45 years. He has managed the development of more than seven million square feet of office and retail space valued at approximately $1.5 billion.

He will open the afternoon lecture with a brief overview of Hines through a series of projects that show the company’s evolution from a one-man office in 1957 to a global firm with more than 4,000 employees. His talk will focus on the firm’s “four food groups”: Office, Industrial/Logistics, Living/Housing and Retail.

Owens will later return to conclude the lecture with a presentation on how Hines mitigates risk and maintains integrity as an organizational imperative.

Jerry Lea, a 37-year veteran of Hines, is responsible for all of the company’s preconstruction activities including budgeting, design, contractor and consultant contract negotiations, as well as materials purchases for Hines projects worldwide.

Lea will talk about Hines’ process for project development, and challenges and opportunities presented by the uniqueness of each venture. His presentation will cover building alternatives and the alignment of interests between an owner, architect and contractors, as well as how building design has changed in the last five years and what’s in store in the future.

Charlie Kuntz, who has been with Hines for 11 years, is responsible for tracking, examining and implementing the most innovative design approaches and the latest construction and real estate technology.

Kuntz will share Hines’ history of pioneering innovation, its investments in real estate technology, and discuss the firm’s Office of Innovation, whose staff investigates, analyzes and launches emerging products and services.

Since its founding, Hines storied history is marked with ambitious projects that changed skylines and business districts in Texas, the U.S. and numerous countries.

  • 1971: Hines built Houston’s 50-story One Shell Plaza, the tallest reinforced concrete structure in the world;
  • 1975: the firm’s collaboration with the legendary design team of Philip Johnson and John Burgee resulted in Houston’s Pennzoil Place, a bold architectural statement cited as “Building of the Year” by the New York Times;
  • 1982: Hines built Texas’ tallest structure, Houston’s I.M.Pei-designed Texas Commerce Tower, now known as the JPMorgan Chase Tower;
  • 1992: the firm opened offices in Mexico City and Moscow. Three years later Hines offices opened in Paris, London, Frankfurt and Prague;
  • 2003: 717 Texas, the Texas’ first LEED Platinum skyscraper, opened. Hines also completed the Hilton Americas-Houston and Toyota Center.
  • 2012: Hines began construction in Porta Nuova, a massive development in Milan, Italy.

Rowlett Lecture host, the CRS Center at the Texas A&M College of Architecture, was established by the Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System in 1990. In addition to advancing innovation and leadership in the design and construction industry, the center hosts the business archives, slide archives, publications and architectural program library of CRS, the architecture engineering and planning firm and its successor firm CRSS.

The archives, which include an oral history of the firm, are available to students and scholars of architectural and business history. Caudill Rowlett Scott, later known as CRS, was established in College Station, Texas shortly after World War II by William Wayne Caudill and John Miles Rowlett, both of whom were professors of architecture at Texas A&M, and Wallie E. Scott, Jr., a graduate student.

The center fosters discussions of major issues in the design and construction industry, encourages graduate study in its areas of interest, participates in the instructional program at the Texas A&M College of Architecture and develops research programs in its areas of intellectual concern.


Richard Nira

posted March 8, 2018