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But Barthelme doesn't have to return to 6910 Fannin to remember it; the blueprint is etched in his mind. He picks up a pencil, and with gnarled fingers conjures up an outline of Adams' office on a place mat at his dining room table. Sketching an imaginary brick wall, he recalls how he instructed masons to leave out a brick here and there to provide spaces for the placement of favorite objects. Barthelme then points his pencil to show where he put a small bar area and a garden with a bubbling fountain. He also designed a "den" in which Adams cut his deals, a space that visitors often likened to a cave.
Adams was a dream client for an architect, Barthelme says. He paid his bills and he never interfered. He was also cost-conscious. Adams wanted an office in the basement not for privacy, Barthelme recalls, but so he could rent the office space on the other floors. He figured the basement would be difficult to rent. Even then he was "bottom line Bud" -- which may explain why the building was never finished as it was envisioned by Barthelme.
Original plans for the APC called for a 17-story tower to rise above its three-story base. Even though Adams never followed through on plans for the tower, Barthelme and partner Hamilton Brown won an AIA award of merit in 1958 for the building and its rich interiors.
In the early years, a top-lit court on the second floor served as a cafeteria and gathering place for employees. But Adams eventually rented out the cafeteria as office space to an imaging company that blacked out the skylights, leaving other tenants with two vending machines for soft drinks and candy to take care of their nutritional needs. The sleek, modern lobby, with its wood paneling and floor of mottled flagstone, remains impressive.
At some point, though, Adams adorned the lobby with a Phillips 66 gas pump, an Army jeep and an antique car.
To Barthelme, that kitschy touch simply underscores the value of the advice he was given by his mentor.
"That's exactly the sort of thing you never want to go back and see," sighs the architect.