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Concrete. Such a humble material yet incredibly strong and resilient. It’s an apt metaphor for Harvey | Harvey-Cleary.

Humble Beginnings

Young, entrepreneurial engineers David E. Harvey, Sr. and Gerald D. Hines started Harvey Construction Company in 1957. Their early projects, utilitarian and unassuming warehouses, set the company on a course to build some of the most pivotal buildings in existence today.

The 1960s and '70s: Building More, Building Smarter

D.E. Harvey, Sr. was already a big proponent of tiltwall construction upon launching the company. Using this delivery technique extensively, he stretched its limits to build bigger and faster. The Harvey crews quickly came to favor concrete as the building material of choice. The tiltwall warehouses led to small office buildings that Mr. Hines wanted to pursue. Some were tiltwall and some not, yet they were all increasing complex.

Successive projects continued to push Harvey to perfect their craft at a time when young new architectural firms were pushing design boundaries. Mr. Hines introduced Mr. Harvey to Gyo Obata when his firm Hellmuth Obata Kassebaum started designing projects in Houston, such as the Neiman-Marcus Galleria. Harvey would go on to build that store, along with the rest of the first phase of the Houston Galleria in 1969. In 1975, Harvey completed the 1-million SF Post Oak Central I building, designed by Philip Johnson.

Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, Harvey continued to innovate the application of poured concrete. With a constant engineering mindset of problem-solving, the firm developed new pouring methods with lighter forms. The efficiency led to the ability to complete one floor per week in high rise construction. Harvey completed the 30-story Austin National Bank in 1973, the tallest building in downtown Austin at the time. Fast forward to 1982 when Harvey completed 14 high rises in one year.

David Harvey, Jr. with Harvey team members visiting a jobsite

1980s: Riding the Wave

David Harvey, Jr. and Joseph Cleary both earned engineering degrees and both started their careers at Harvey, in 1977 and 1976 respectively. And both took over ownership of Harvey Builders in 1987, renaming the firm to Harvey | Harvey-Cleary. Coming off the recession of the early 80s and the downturn in oil pricing of the mid-80s, the new Harvey saw opportunity in the shifting economic landscape.Harvey started an Interiors group in the 90s to focus on reviving older offices and completing code compliance updates. This pragmatic work allowed Harvey’s problem-solving skills to shine again; the firm worked closely with developers and owners during preconstruction to generate project pricing and operational costs. Having this information earlier in the design process allowed clients to make more informed choices in line with the building proforma. It’s a part of our process to this day, and one way clients say we provide added value.

The Next Generation

Over the past 20 years alone, clients have come to us for projects we never could have envisioned during those early days of doing tiltwall warehouses. Projects like the ExxonMobil campus, the Baylor Alkek Tower, Hotel Emma at The Pearl, and Market Square Tower have been so fulfilling to bring to fruition for their sheer size and complexity. Other projects like Lawndale Art Center, Austin Ballet, Congregation Beth Israel, and the Teach for America office renovation have been rewarding for the opportunity to directly impact our community.

Over the history of the firm, we’ve certainly had plenty of lessons learned the hard way. Like our beloved concrete, we are resilient and strong in compression. And we try to remain true to our composition, the qualities upon which David E. Harvey, Sr. and Gerald D. Hines founded the firm – integrity above all, quality in all decisions, and constant improvement through innovation.

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