Class of 2014-15
RTKL Associates Inc.
American Institute of Architects (AIA)
Kemper Award, AIA
A self-described “architect of an architecture firm,” Harold L. Adams is best known for building RTKL Associates from a small practice in Annapolis, Maryland, to a global leader in architecture, planning, and design.
He is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and an Ed Rachal Foundation Faculty Fellow for the 2014–15 academic year.
Adams received his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Texas A&M University in 1962. After graduation, he worked in Washington, DC, for John Carl Warnecke & Associates, where he worked with President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy on several important projects, including the Lafayette Square project and the site selection for the JFK Presidential Library.
Adams was the project manager for the 1962 redesign of Lafayette Square in Washington DC, a project that featured the Howard T. Markey National Courts Building and the New Executive Office Building. He later served as project manager for the John F. Kennedy Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.
He joined RTKL Associates in 1967, became president in 1969, CEO in 1971, and chairman in 1987. Under Adams’s leadership, RTKL developed into a global design practice with a strong reputation for its design and management expertise. When he retired in 2003, the firm had grown to 1,200 employees in fourteen international offices.
Adams is one of the first Americans to hold a first-class Kenchikushi license from Japan’s Ministry of Construction. He is a registered architect in the United Kingdom. He belongs to the Royal Institute of British Architects and serves as a trustee and board chair for several arts, education, and civic organizations in the Baltimore–Washington area.
Winner of the Kemper Award for Service to the American Institute of Architects in 1997, Adams has devoted much time to the organization as a keynote speaker, committee member, and officer at the local and national levels, including chancellor of the association’s College of Fellows in 1998. In 2014, Adams received the College of Fellows’ highest honor, the Leslie N. Boney Spirit of Fellowship Award for his years of service.
Adams has endowed four professorships and one scholarship with Texas A&M’s College of Architecture and is a member of the College Development Advisory Council.
A member of the Texas A&M President’s Council, Adams was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2011. That same year, he was inducted into the National Academy of Construction.
Adams is a member of the board of the Fairfax, Virginia-based architecture and engineering firm Dewberry. He also serves on the boards of Legg Mason, Lincoln Electric Holdings, and Commercial Metals Company.
As a TIAS Fellow, Adams will interact with faculty and students in Texas A&M University’s College of Architecture.