Founder, Hillier Architecture
J. Robert Hillier is rare among architects in how he brings together, in elegant balance, both design excellence and business acumen. Beginning as a solo practitioner in Princeton in 1966, Bob built his practice on the foundations of client-focused service and design excellence and turned it into one of the largest, most respected architectural practices in the United States. Bob parlayed his business sense into a design specialty—his firm became an established leader in the design of major corporate campuses for clients including Beneficial, GlaxoSmithKline, Wyeth, Sprint, and Capital One.
Hillier Architecture has accumulated over 300 design awards in the past four decades and, along the way, Bob received his own share of accolades for design business acumen, leadership, and contributions to the profession. He received the Michael Graves FAIA Lifetime Achievement Medal from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), was named New Jersey’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” by INC Magazine, has received the “Innovator of the Year” award from the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and was awarded the first DaVinci Award for Excellence in Leadership from the Professional Services Management Association. In 2006, the American Institute of Architects, New Jersey Chapter, recognized the firm’s contributions to the art and practice of architecture by naming Hillier Architecture “Firm of the Year.”
An indefatigable entrepreneur, an advocate for open space, and a mentor to many, Bob sits on many boards and has taught for 17 years at the School of Architecture of Princeton University, from which he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Through his activities as both architect and developer, Bob has preserved over 300 acres of land in New Jersey; contributed to the supply of affordable housing in the state by transforming abandoned properties into residences; and helped preserve the state’s architectural heritage by resurrecting historic buildings. Bob’s deeply held convictions about the role architecture plays in shaping the human experience earned him an invitation to speak at the United Nations in 2006.
In 2007, Hillier Architecture merged with RMJM Group, an Edinburgh-based international architectural design practice, to create one of the largest practices in the world. In August of 2009, he established a new business dedicated to land use strategies and execution, which is an outgrowth of an independent development company he has operated since the 1970s. The company is responsible for almost two dozen projects in the Princeton region and has 12 new projects underway.
Bob is also the majority owner of Princeton Magazine and Princeton’s leading newspaper, Town Topics. He and his wife Barbara have also created a highly regarded Internet magazine, www.obit-mag.com. In November of 2009, Bob will assume the chairmanship of Princeton’s Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Bob serves on the NJIT Board of Overseers as well as the Albert Dorman Honors College Board of Visitors. In addition, he and his wife Barbara provide scholarship support for students at NJIT.