Adams with crossed arms at the ocean
Christopher Adams. Courtesy of his family

Christopher L. Adams, who was a respected city planner and architect for over 60 years, died on Aug. 11 in Oakland. He was 86. The cause was complications from an acute aortic dissection.

After graduating from Stanford in 1959 with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture, he served in the U.S. Army as a lieutenant in the artillery. From 1963 to 1967 he worked as an architect and city planner in Switzerland, where he met and married Jane Humphrey, who survives him. In 1971 he received a Master of City Planning degree from UC Berkeley and subsequently worked as an architect and urban designer in Montreal, Quebec. In 1973 he returned to Berkeley where he worked for the University of California Office of the President, eventually serving as the Director of Long Range Planning.  He was the founding campus planner for UC Merced and directed its first master plan and coordinated the design of its first buildings. 

Chris also designed houses in Maine, in Montreal and on the California coast. He was especially adept at challenging kitchen and bathroom remodels, and there was never a project too small for him. All over the world there are kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, staircases, bookshelves, nooks, cabinets, and corners of friends’ houses that benefited from his discerning architectural eye.

After retirement he served on several nonprofit boards in Berkeley, including the Berkeley Public Library Foundation and the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, and was a member and chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. 

Chris subscribed for many decades to the San Francisco Opera and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and enthusiastically supported and appreciated many other performing and fine arts. 

He picked up jogging in the 1970s and continued to be an ardent runner for the rest of his life, competing in two marathons and many shorter races well into his 80s.

He loved the natural world, logging many hours on the Strawberry Canyon Trail in Berkeley and various trails around Tomales Bay State Park on the Point Reyes Peninsula. He was a supporter of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust. A champion of native plants, he was a proficient picker of huckleberries, and he liked to wax poetic about different types of grasses such as California fescue and oatgrass.

Christopher “Kit” Adams was born on Feb. 5, 1937, in Los Angeles to Caroline Lovina (Holdridge) Adams, a high school secretary, and Donald Lee Adams, a laborer and deliveryman for Standard Oil and TRW, an aerospace and automotive company. An only child, he grew up in a small bungalow in the “tree section” of Manhattan Beach, California. 

Chris will be remembered for his appreciation of delicious meals, fresh ingredients, and teamwork in the kitchen. He was especially known for his simple but excellent salad dressing. 

He was wry, observant, precise and always made an effort to maintain the rhythms of life. One way he expressed these qualities was through his Christmas cards that depicted family life or current events in cartoon form.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughter, Caroline C Adams, his son-in-law, Jeme A Brelin, his grandson, Orestes W Brelin and many dear friends near and far.

A memorial will be held in Berkeley in early 2024. Email to be apprised of details as they become available.

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