Harold Adams '61 is a professor of practice in Texas A&M University's College of Architecture, where he shares lessons from years of industry experience with his students.
The world was delivered to Harold Adams’ family home between the covers of Reader’s Digest, a monthly magazine packed with stories of human interest and travel. But it was an article written by Pietro Belluschi, dean of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture and Planning, describing architecture as a career that captured the young boy’s imagination and changed his life forever.
“As a child, I loved drawing and making things,” said Adams, a 1962 graduate of Texas A&M University. “I had a woodshop where I built chairs, bookcases and a variety of other furniture to sell. When I read that article and learned about architecture, I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do!’”
Laying a Foundation
As his high school's valedictorian, Adams received scholarship offers from several Texas colleges, but none of them had an architecture program. Knowing that one was offered at Texas A&M, he made the trip from his hometown of Palmer, Texas, to tour the campus. “I just loved it,” said Adams. “I was convinced from that day forward that Texas A&M was where I would study to become an architect.”
When Adams was admitted, architecture was a five-year degree program housed in the School of Engineering. During his freshman and sophomore years, students in architecture, construction science, landscape architecture and urban planning shared several common core classes. “We developed friendships outside of our vocational interests, and that broadened our understanding of how the professions work together on projects,” he said.
Adams became active in the Memorial Student Center Student Conference on National Affairs, the Design Student Society and served as editor of the student publication, Architecture Plus. In 1962, he received the M.N. Davidson Fellowship Award, making him one of architecture’s first scholarship recipients. During the summers prior to graduation, he gained real-world experience with two renowned architectural firms: Pratt and Box Architecture in Dallas, which shaped the city’s skyline through innovative design and urban development; and William B. Tabler Architects in New York City, which specialized in designing hotels, including the New York Hilton near Rockefeller Center.
“The job and living in New York were terrific,” he recalled. “A classmate’s aunt was director of the New York Civic Center, and she could get us discounted tickets to anything. We went to shows that featured the original famous actors and musicians, sometimes seeing two or more each week!”