Former DBIA Board Chair, Harold L. Adams, Passes Away at 82

Harold L. Adams, the longtime CEO of RTKL and DBIA’s Chairman of the Board in 2005, died after a brief illness at his home in Texas. Adams was an architect, design-build influencer and educator who worked on federal projects in the 1960s during the Kennedy administration and ultimately transformed RTKL into a global design practice.

Adams was a trailblazer in many ways. He was a strong voice in the design community endorsing the collaborative power of design-build at a time when his colleagues were skeptical. He wrote an impressive argument in 2003 for why architects should embrace design-build in the forward for The Architect’s Guide to Design-Build Services, co-authored by another DBIA Board Chairman, William Quatman.

“…the truth is that design-build has been with us for as long as the built environment. And yet, architects have, for more than a century, looked upon design-build with neither enthusiasm nor professionalism, preferring the less direct design-bid-build method, especially for large commercial development. It is hard to say why this is so. Do we run from the perceived risk? diminished design control? organizational complexity? Or is it simply an inchoate prejudice to segregate the art of architecture from the science of construction?

 Over the years, it would seem that for a variety of what may be hollow reasons, we have talked ourselves out of a good thing, one that benefits us as much as our clients. 

 …as our work grows in complexity and geographic reach, it has become abundantly clear that the stool must have three legs—design, service, and delivery—as a way of ensuring quality, creative intent, and fiscal accountability. Design-build allows this to happen, creating a stronger, more responsive and more accountable methodology on which a client can rely.”Harold L. Adams, FAIA, RIBA, JIA, 2003 Architect’s Guide to Design-Build Services

DBIA Executive Director/CEO, Lisa Washington, says the acceptance of design-build among the design community over the years can be attributed to leaders like Harold Adams.

“Harold’s foresight in seeing how the collaborative power of design-build can deliver more timely and efficient projects for clients was not always a popular view in the design community. However, his commitment to breaking down barriers and educating all members of a design-build team set the stage for the tremendous growth we’ve seen over the decades – he will be missed.” …Lisa Washington, DBIA Executive Director/CEO