Following a professional degree in architecture from the University of Michigan in 1957, and professional practice with such firms as Minoru Yamasaki and Albert Kahn, in1964 Grant Hildebrand completed the Master's program at Michigan, and began a teaching career at the University of Washington. In 1974 he saw published by MIT a pioneering study of industrial architecture, Designing for Industry: the architecture of Albert Kahn. The following year he received the University's Distinguished Teaching Award for the rank of Professor.
In 1978 he became interested in the work of the English geographer Jay Appleton, who argued that the appeal of certain landscapes is based in part on the survival advantages they offer. In 1988, Hildebrand inaugurated a course in the architectural implications of such an approach. His interest in this as a basis for interpreting Frank Lloyd Wright's houses led to the publication in 1991 of The Wright Space: pattern and meaning in Frank Lloyd Wright's houses. Professor Hildebrand expanded this toward a general aesthetic theory in Origins of Architectural Pleasure (1999) which received the Washington Governor's Writers' Award for work of literary merit and lasting value.
Professor Hildebrand was Chettle Fellow at the University of Sydney in 1989, and has held visiting appointments at Tokyo Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Michigan. He retired from teaching in 2000, but he continues to write. In 2004 he co-authored with T. William Booth A Thriving Modernism; the houses of Wendell Lovett and Arne Bystrom, which was short-listed for the Governor's Writers Award; in 2007 he published Frank Lloyd Wright's Palmer House and Elegant Explorations: the Designs of Phillip Jacobson. He self-published, in 2007, A Greek Temple in French Prairie, the story of the pre-Civil War William Case house in the Willamette Valley, and, more recently, Autumn Leaves, a small book of his poetry. Suyama: A Complex Serenity, will be released by the UW Press in April, 2011, and a book on the career of Gene Zema is in early stages of production at the press.