Harold Lynn Adams, an architect who launched former RTKL firm into global design, dies – Baltimore Sun

Harold Lynn Adams, an architect who turned the former RTKL company into a global design firm, died Tuesday of glioblastoma brain cancer at his home in Bryan/College Station, Texas. The former Mount Washington resident was 82 years old.

Born in Palmer, Texas, he was the son of Charles Roy Adams, a barber, and Lola Beck, who ran a clothing factory and chain of fabric stores.

A graduate of Palmer High School, he was valedictorian and the only member of his class of eight to go to college. Mr. Adams is a graduate of Texas A&M University.

He moved to Washington, DC, and met his future wife, Janice Lindhurst.

“We just passed each other on Wisconsin Avenue,” she said. “We met in May and got married in August.”

She said her husband had a meteoric career in Washington and found work among members of the John F. Kennedy family.

“Harold had graduated for six weeks and worked for architect John Carl Warnecke, a close friend of Jackie and President Kennedy. Kennedy wanted to discuss plans for the Presidential Library, and Jack Warnecke asked Harold to accompany him to the Oval Office of the White House to take notes.

“Harold sat quietly and gave a detailed account of the meeting. It didn’t hurt that Harold was beautifully dressed in a suit and vest that his mother made in her clothing factory. Harold always wore tailored suits, but he was an excellent note-taker that Mr. Warnecke made him the office manager. He didn’t know Harold was 23 and just out of college,” his wife said.

Mr. Adams arrived in Baltimore in 1967 when four local architects, Archibald Rogers, Francis Taliaferro, George Kostritsky and Charles Lamb, needed someone with strong business skills to manage their offices on Cathedral Street in Mount Vernon.

George Kostritsky interviewed Mr. Adams on a Saturday and offered to run their firm, which was growing rapidly but was a management mess, his wife said.

“The first thing he did was pull out the partners’ credit cards and find out what debts were due and what bills were due. He also got a line of credit from First National Bank,” she said.

She said her husband had arranged for the office to be moved from their hodgepodge of offices on Cathedral Street to the village of Cross Keys above the town square.

As the company grew, Mr. Adams negotiated new offices in downtown Baltimore and at Bond Street Wharf in Fells Point.

“He was one of the few architects who wasn’t afraid to run his practice like a business,” said RTKL colleague Thom McKay. “Harold was brilliant, well-organized and brought a pragmatic spirit to the game. He had a global sense, a sort of sixth sense, and he took the business into another category.

“He was thinking beyond the United States when very few architectural firms were,” McKay said. “He knew the right kind of people who could get on a plane and work overseas.”

Mr. Adams was appointed Chairman of RTKL in 1969 and Chairman of the Board in 1987.

“His skills were in organization and management and in the human aspects,” said Ted Niederman, retired architect of RTKL and a member of its board of directors. “The company had lost control in terms of accounting. He was not a design architect. His strength was in managing organizations. He also had a certain amount of common sense. »

Within his cabinet, Mr. Adams had the role of “the man behind the curtain”, Mr. Niederman said. “He had a subtle, one-on-one sense of humor, he was personable and personable.”

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Mr. Adams believed in growth and opened satellite offices in London, Madrid, Shanghai and Tokyo.

A 1997 Sun article said: “Now based in Baltimore and run by Harold Adams, RTKL has over 500 employees. … RTKL works in 45 countries. Baltimore and Maryland are a veritable museum of his projects, and it’s hard to imagine the region without them. Projects range from the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Commerce Place in downtown Baltimore to the Towson Town Center, Greater Baltimore Medical Center and the [entrance] to Charles Center metro station.”

He retired at the age of 65 because he believed in young talent, his wife said. RTKL Associates was then sold to Arcadis, a company based in the Netherlands.

After leaving Baltimore and returning to Texas, he taught at Texas A&M.

“Harold Adams leaves a monumental legacy in design and in education at Texas A&M,” Patrick Suermann, the school’s acting dean, said in a statement. “His work with the Kennedys, his leadership at RTKL, and his determination to prioritize interdisciplinary education for college students have a tremendous impact now and in the future.”

Survivors include his 59-year-old wife, Janice Lindhurst, former chair of the board of trustees of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington; one daughter, Abigail Adams Brigstocke of Mount Washington; three sons, Harold L. Adams II of Riderwood, Ashley John Adams of West Towson, and Samuel John Henry Adams of Essex Fells, New Jersey; one brother, Dany Roy Adams of Coldspring, Texas; and 11 grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at Texas A&M University’s All Saints Chapel.

Michael J. Chiaramonte