See a summary of Harold Adams’ achievements in his outstanding alumnus profile.
Harold Adams ‘61, chairman emeritus of RTKL, one of the world’s largest design firms, and an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Architecture, was among the elite group of seven renowned scholars, scientists and engineers recently selected as Faculty Fellows for Texas A&M’s Institute for Advanced Study.
As a member of what’s been dubbed the university’s “Genius Corps,” Adams is serving as a scholar-in-residence, working with College of Architecture faculty and students to enhance multidisciplinary collaboration while sharing the wisdom he’s gained throughout his stellar career.
“As a TIAS Faculty Fellow, Harold Adams will be catalyst to enriching the intellectual climate and educational experiences in the college,” said Jorge Vanegas, dean of the college.
A longtime advocate of interdisciplinary education and research, Adams has endowed four interdisciplinary professorships in the College of Architecture, one for each department. Holders of these professorships, he said, are chosen for their interdisciplinary teaching, research and professional activities.
Since assuming fellowship duties, Adams has sought opportunities for expanding the college’s interdisciplinary research and teaching culture within the college and across The Texas A&M University System.
“This kind of collaboration is important, because the best new ideas usually come from an interdisciplinary team, not from an individual,” said Adams.
While at the college, Adams will also advise college administrators’ efforts to meet the goals of Texas A&M’s Vision 2020, an initiative aimed at enhancing the university’s national reputation.
Over the years, Adams has had a long interactive relationship with the college, visiting frequently to lecture, participate in design reviews and participate as a member of the dean’s advisory council.
As a TIAS fellow, he has continued with formal lectures and casual chats, sharing the experience he gained while leading RTKL from a one-office firm to a juggernaut with projects under way in 60 countries and while navigating the world’s diverse cultural and ethical practices.
His meteoric professional rise started four months after graduating from Texas A&M in 1962 with a degree in architecture, when, through a series of fortuitous connections, he found himself working with President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy on federal building projects. After Kennedy’s 1963 assassination, Adams supervised the design of the president’s gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery.
He joined RTKL in 1967, became firm president in 1969, CEO in 1971 and chairman in 1987. By the time he retired in 2003, RTKL had established offices in several U.S. locations, Madrid, London, Tokyo and Shanghai while developing global renown for design and management excellence.
Under Adams chairmanship, the firm completed many high-profile projects, including rebuilding the Pentagon after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington, D.C., the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum and the United States Capitol Visitors’ Center.
He earned the 1997 Edward C. Kemper Award for significant contributions to architecture through countless hours of service to the AIA as a speaker, committee member and officer at local and national levels.
In addition to being named a Texas A&M University Distinguished Alumnus in 2011, Adams, a member of the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows, was presented the Leslie N. Boney Spirit of Fellowship Award, the college’s highest honor, in 2014.
He also holds a ‘first-class Kenchikushi’ license, awarded by Japan’s Ministry of Construction, is a registered architect in the United Kingdom, and was inducted into National Academy of Construction in 2011 for lifetime achievement providing design-industry leadership while advancing industry education and professional development.