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HomeModern House PlanHarold L. Adams, longtime CEO of RTKL, passes away at 82

Harold L. Adams, longtime CEO of RTKL, passes away at 82


Harold Adams, an architect and educator who labored on federal tasks within the Sixties with then-President John F. Kennedy and then-First Woman Jacqueline Kennedy and later served as chairman and CEO of RTKL, has died after a short sickness at his house in Bryan, Texas. He was 82.

As head of RTKL, Adams introduced enterprise savvy and led the transformation of a one-office architectural agency in Baltimore to a worldwide design observe with tasks in additional than 60 international locations.

Beneath his management, RTKL grew to become one of many first American structure companies to be allowed to observe in China. RTKL invested closely in expertise and launched CAD sooner than many workplaces. In 2015, RTKL merged with Seattle-based Callison and is now referred to as CallisonRTKL.

Born in Palmer, Texas, Harold Lynn Adams graduated from Texas A&M College with a Bachelor of Structure diploma in 1962. After school, he was employed by John Carl Warnecke and Associates and started working with Warnecke on Kennedy-era constructing tasks within the nation’s capital, together with a preservation-oriented plan for introducing federal courts and an government workplace constructing to Lafayette Sq. with out destroying historic houses within the space.

portrait of a young harold adams
Harold L. Adams (Courtesy CallisonRTKL)

Adams’ work on Lafayette Sq., which caught the eye of the President and First Woman, led to a number of tasks for the Kennedy household, together with an addition to Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s home in McLean, Virginia; renovations of a number of houses on the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, and early conferences to debate potential websites for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Adams additionally served because the venture supervisor for the John F. Kennedy Memorial at Arlington Nationwide Cemetery, recognized for its “Everlasting Flame.” 

RTKL was began in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1949 and later moved to Baltimore to work on the 33-acre Charles Heart renewal venture for the Larger Baltimore Committee. Its early principals gave the agency its identify: Rogers, Taliferro, Kostritsky, and Lamb, for Archibald Rogers, Francis Taliaferro, George Kostritsky, and Charles Lamb—later shortened to RTKL Associates Inc. after which to RTKL.

Adams joined RTKL in 1967, grew to become president in 1969, CEO in 1971, and chairman in 1987. Throughout his tenure, RTKL grew by opening workplaces in cities corresponding to Madrid, London, Tokyo, and Shanghai, and gained a fame for design and administration experience. When Adams retired in 2003, the agency had 1,200 staff in 14 workplaces around the globe.

Throughout Adams’ time at RTKL, the agency’s tasks included rebuilding the Pentagon after the terrorist assaults on September 11, 2001; america Capitol Customer Heart; the renovation of Bancroft Corridor on the U. S. Naval Academy; the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington, D.C.; the Shanghai Science and Expertise Museum, and grasp planning for Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the city ballpark that’s celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this yr. Adams labored with three totally different Architects of the Capitol on the Capitol Customer Heart.

members of an architecture firm posing for a photo in the 1960s
Members of RTKL, pictured left to proper: Frank Taliaferro, Tom Wheatly, Charlie Lamb, Harold Adams, and George Pilorge. (Courtesy CallisonRTKL)

Lance Josal, who joined RTKL in 1979 and was its CEO or chair from 2009 to 2019, stated Adams had a uncommon skill “to determine and rent various forms of design expertise from all through the occupation who grew to become instrumental in constructing his imaginative and prescient of a world-class architectural agency…He was an ideal evaluator of expertise. He actually knew design expertise when he noticed it.”

Josal stated a giant a part of Adams’ success is that “he had a novel capability to actually assume like our purchasers, to know what they had been on the lookout for, whereas on a regular basis understanding easy methods to assemble a group to execute as a world-class structure agency. Not solely may he discover the expertise, however he additionally was superb at speaking to purchasers about what their issues had been and placing a group collectively that will reply properly to these issues.”

Adams is credited with founding the Massive Agency Roundtable for the American Institute of Architects (AIA), giving executives of enormous design companies a collegial setting the place they will meet and focus on issues and options the identical means operators of smaller companies do.

The AIA awarded Adams with two of its highest honors, the Edward C. Kemper Award, for his management within the occupation, and membership in its School of Fellows. He served as chancellor of the School of Fellows in 1997–1998. In 2014, he acquired the School of Fellows’ highest honor, the Leslie N. Boney Spirit of Fellowship Award, for his years of service.

Adams additionally acquired the Society of American Navy Engineers’ first-ever Max O. Urbahn Medal for achievement in structure and was inducted into The Nationwide Academy of Building. He was one of many first Individuals to carry a first-class Kenchikushi license from Japan’s Ministry of Building and likewise belonged to the Royal Institute of British Architects. He served as a trustee and board chair for a number of arts, schooling, and civic organizations within the Baltimore-Washington space.

Acknowledged as a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M in 2011, Adams joined its School of Structure in 2018 as a Professor of Skilled Apply. The next yr, he acquired an honorary physician of letters diploma from the college. He endowed 4 professorships and one scholarship with the School of Structure and served as a member of its School Improvement Advisory Council.

The reason for Adams’ loss of life was glioblastoma, an aggressive type of most cancers that happens within the mind. He’s survived by his spouse, Janice; kids Harold Lynn II, Abigail, Ashley John, and Samuel, and 11 grandchildren. A memorial service might be held later this spring, and he might be buried on his household farm in Needmore, Pennsylvania.



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