Austin, TX – The National Academy of Construction has announced that Harold L. Adams is the 2021 recipient of NAC’s Ted C. Kennedy Award, the Academy’s highest honor. The Executive Committee confirmed the recognition with a unanimous vote.
Adams, chairman emeritus of RTKL Associates, has influenced the world of architecture for more than six decades on a global scale. He has been honored by the AIA with two of its highest recognitions: as a member of its College of Fellows and as a recipient of the Edward C. Kemper Award. He served as chancellor of the College in 1998. He is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and was one of the first Americans to become a member of the Japan Institute of Architects. A strong advocate for collaboration, he was the first architect elected chair of the Design-Build Institute of America, exemplifying his efforts in bridging the design and construction disciplines. He was a licensed architect in 44 states.
From his humble beginnings in a small Texas town, his career took him from his alma mater, Texas A&M University, to some of the most noteworthy architectural projects ever built: the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame, the redevelopment of Lafayette Square, the U.S. Naval Academy master plan, the rebuilding of the Pentagon after 9/11, the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, and many more.
Adams’ selection as the Ted C. Kennedy Award recipient bolsters the prominence of the honor, according to Wayne Crew, NAC General Secretary. “Harold Adams stands apart in the world of architecture and in the design and construction industry,” Crew said. “His career, his leadership, and his contributions have made the world a better place for us all.”
The award honors late industry leader Ted C. Kennedy, founder of BE&K who built the company into a worldwide leader. Criteria for the Kennedy Award are imposing: commitment to people; obsession with safety; integrity and ethics; championing innovation; a lifetime of achievement; breadth of sector experience and roles; industry organization and leadership; generosity; and support of the greater community. NAC judged Adams as exceeding all.
Adams’ career began with John Carl Warnecke and Associates and the Lafayette Square project. His work captured the attention of President Kennedy and his wife and he later worked on renovations to the Kennedy family homes in Hyannis Port, MA. Recruited by RTKL in Baltimore, Adams was only 29 when he became president of the firm. He grew the one-office company from 45 to 1,200 employees with 14 international offices. He also was the founder of the World Trade Institute of Maryland, serving with the institute for over 30 years. He also was chairman of the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., from 1996-98, and chairman of the American Architectural Foundation from 2000-2004.
Today, Adams is a professor of practice at Texas A&M, where he is a Distinguished Alumnus and holds an Honorary Doctorate of Letters. He also is a Fellow in the Hagler Institute of Advanced Studies at the university. He has endowed four professorships and one scholarship at A&M as well. His creation of a week-long collaborative class for students from each department in the architectural college presents them with real-world issues to resolve.
Adams now joins 10 other Kennedy Award recipients: Ted C. Kennedy; James L. Lammie; Richard L. Tucker; James B. Porter, Jr.; James G. Slaughter, Jr.; David J. Nash; Joseph A. Ahearn; Henry J. Hatch; Charles B. Thomsen; and Janice L. Tuchman.